August 3, 2020 Poole to Step Down as Dean in June 2021, Return to Teaching

After a decade of leading the College of Architecture and Design and a 35-year career of teaching, professional practice, service and leadership, Scott Poole, FAIA, dean of the college, has announced his intent to step down following his second term as dean in June 2021 to return to teaching.

Poole’s long career as a design teacher, architect, author and leader has led to his many accomplishments and accolades. Notably, in 2016, he was elevated as a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects, and in 2012 and 2014, he was named by DesignIntelligence as one of America’s 25 Most Admired Educators. In addition to many teaching and service awards, he received the Presidential Award of Excellence from the American Institute of Architects, Tennessee, in 2019.

As an academic leader, Poole developed innovative strategies to advance meaningful collaborations between design education and practice, set the context for multiple nationally and internationally recognized experiential learning projects, hired and mentored award-winning educators and engaged the collective capabilities of faculty to create inspiring environments for design education.

Poole led the development of a more vibrant creative culture in the college by attracting top talent, establishing 21st century facilities for design and fabrication and engaging formidable partners in meaningful collaborations:

  • Working with prominent alumni, the college raised more than $4M for scholarships and professorships, allowing the college to attract exceptional students and retain outstanding teachers;
  • Exciting new territories of opportunity were enabled by state-of-the-art improvements in the college’s main facility, the Art + Architecture Building, and the inauguration of a new facility for advanced fabrication––the Fab Lab––in downtown Knoxville;
  • With partners Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the college created AMIE an internationally acclaimed 3D-printed building that autonomously transfers energy between a vehicle and a home;
  • With TVA, the National Park Service and other prominent partners and communities throughout the region, the college established the Tennessee RiverLine, a multi-generational project that will have a direct and lasting impact on the people and places UT, a land-grant institution, serves.

With Poole’s leadership, the student population in the college has nearly doubled, and the academic profiles of students are among the highest in the university. Faculty and students annually earn multiple national awards, and faculty research, engagement and diversity are producing important results.

Focus on Students

Beyond any accolades and accomplishments, Poole has continually kept one priority: Students. He has been a forceful advocate for the professional development of young architects and emerging leaders, created opportunities for vigorous conversations on design excellence and contributed to more integrated relationships between architectural practice and architectural education.

Over his career, Poole has mentored many young leaders and students who have become deans, directors, fellows, professors and principals at leading firms across the country and Europe. Poole says above all, his focus on doing what’s best for students is his most important accomplishment.

“It has been one of the great privileges of my life to teach and mentor so many brilliant students. Who cannot think of that one teacher who changed their life forever? In my present role, I hire those people. What a great source of satisfaction,” he said.

In 2019, Poole led the founding of the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville, a local affiliate of a national program that connects high school students with professionals in architecture, construction and engineering.

The college’s downtown Fab Lab is an example of Poole’s vision for providing inspiring resources for students and faculty. In 2013, along with Associate Dean David Matthews, he identified an available property on North Gay Street, and one year later, the Fab Lab opened. The Fab Lab is a 20,000-square-foot maker space equipped with more than $1M of digital and analog technology, likely one of the best fab labs in the country. In 2017, Poole expanded the Fab Lab’s reach to design professionals in the region by overseeing the creation of Digital Fabrication Services.

In his tenure as dean, Poole has overseen historic levels of financial support and involvement of professionals from various industries. During his tenure as dean more than $4M was raised to support scholarships and professorships.

Partners and Collaborators

Poole re-envisioned the college’s advocacy board forging vital relationships between architecture and design education, the profession and allied industries resulting in a board of advocates that is unique among colleges of architecture and design in America.

“It has been my honor to chair the Dean’s Advocacy Board for the past four years,” said George Ewart, chair of the board and principal in charge, George Armour Ewart Architect. “Scott’s vision for the college was ‘excellence,’ and he achieved it. Through his leadership, the college purchased the Fab Lab, hired exemplary faculty, established the Governor’s Chair program, recruited outstanding students and exceeded fundraising goals, including securing the first one-million-dollar gift. He is a great man, mentor and friend, and I and the board wish him luck on his next journey in life.”

Poole’s ability to bring together disparate entities to work together for the benefit of students resulted in the successful Governor’s Chair for High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments in 2014-2019, a partnership of Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; and the college.

In this five-year period, Governor’s Chair Phil Enquist and other professionals from SOM and ORNL presented unprecedented opportunities for more than 150 students in the college to work side by side in studio to research and design at a high level. Two notable successes are AMIE, the internationally acclaimed 3D-printed additive manufactured and integrated energy structure, and the Tennessee RiverLine, a vision for North America’s next great regional trail system that began as a Governor’s Chair studio in 2015.

Provost John Zomchick reiterated Poole’s influence and success at UT.

“Scott has transformed the College of Architecture and Design during his tenure as dean through his consistent focus on building excellence and expanding the role of design within the university. During his tenure, the college became a destination for high-achieving students from within and outside our state while acquiring a reputation of a top school for architecture and design,” Zomchick said.

Writing and Research

Poole looks forward to returning to teaching and to focusing on writing and research.

His research, evident in numerous publications, lectures, presentations and study tours, have contributed to awareness, appreciation and understanding of contemporary Nordic architecture, specifically Finnish architecture, across the U.S. and world. His book, The New Finnish Architecture, has been published in three languages and reprinted twice.

Poole has led multiple architectural study tours and residency programs in Europe, affirming his belief that participating in the rich cultural traditions, languages and diverse forms of artistic expression encountered in foreign cultures is a life-changing experience essential to the cultivation of an architect’s intellect and sensibilities.

Influenced by his humble upbringing, Poole is proud to be a first-generation college graduate, receiving a bachelor of arts in anthropology degree from Temple University followed by a master of architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduation he was named a Fulbright Scholar to Finland for 1983-84.

He taught at both UT Austin and Virginia Tech, where he became professor and served as director of the nationally acclaimed School of Architecture + Design. He was also invited as guest professor at two of Europe’s leading architecture programs: Sweden’s Royal Academy of Technology and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

A search committee will be formed soon, followed by a national search for a new dean for the College of Architecture and Design.

While the college will miss Dean Poole’s visionary leadership, students in fall 2021 will benefit from this lifelong learner, experienced designer and engaging teacher.