Debra Riley Parr
Chair, Associate Professor
Debra Riley Parr, Chair of Fashion Studies, is Associate Professor of Art and Design History. She has served as Associate Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts and as Associate Chair in the Art + Design Department. As Associate Dean, Debra helped shape administrative processes and systems governing the delivery of curriculum and the School’s strategic plan.
Debra received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University. Her current research concerns the impact of design practices in youth cultures, including fashion design. Other recent projects include investigations into the intersection of design and art, especially focusing on how the history, assumptions, and prevalence of design assist both designers and artists in articulating meaning during moments of cultural transformation and crisis.
In addition to teaching at Columbia College, Debra has been a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and has lectured at Boston University, Cranbrook Academy, University of New Mexico, California Institute of the Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Webster University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Art Institute, among others. She has served as a panelist, presenter, juror, and critic at conferences, competitions, and institutions of higher learning both nationally and internationally. Debra has been published extensively in books and journals such as Fiberarts, Merge: Sound, Thought, Image, Ten by Ten: Space for Visual Culture, Art and Auction, New Art Examiner, and Artnews. She recently served on the MFA review panel of the Designed Objects and Fashion exhibition, Where is Where, at SAIC, where she participated in a roundtable discussion on the intersections between design practices. She currently serves on the publications review board of Design Inquiry.
Debra has served Columbia College extensively, as seen by her election to Vice-President of the College Council’s Executive Committee, the All-College Tenure Committee, the Faculty Development Committee, and by her membership on major search committees, as well as in development of curriculum across the Art + Design Department and within her own field of expertise. Debra is also the first recipient, along with Bonnie Brooks, of the School of Fine and Performing Arts Academic Leadership Award.