After 122 years, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning’s first female dean assumed her position on New Year’s Day. Dean J. Meejin Yoon ’94 is expected to serve a five-year term.
“It’s amazing that it took 122 years for a woman to be named to this position,” Yoon previously said in a phone interview with The Sun in July. “There are so many women who have done so much for the college until now … and there’s a lot of female leadership in the college already. So I don’t see it as so radical.”
“But I’m honored to be the first woman to be the dean,” she continued.
Yoon had been interviewing for the position since early 2018 and was informed of the decision in mid-July. She took over the position from interim dean Prof. Kieran Donaghy, city and regional planning.
The Cornell alumna previously told The Sun she wants to “amplify” the positive traits of each aspect of architecture, art and planning within her new position.
Yoon transitioned from leading the architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to overseeing the art, architecture and planning departments within the architecture college. Cornell holds the No. 1 spot for undergraduate architecture program, according to Architecture Record’s website, which also ranks Cornell’s graduate program at No. 4 and MIT’s graduate program at No. 3.
“Because Cornell AAP has a strong legacy of both the creative fine arts and design [as well as] planning and the built environment, I think that it can do things that really change the world for the better,” Yoon told The Sun last year.
The newly-inaugurated dean co-founded Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP and MY Studio with partner Eric Höweler ’94 in 2000. Her work has earned her multiple awards, including the Progressive Architecture Award, the Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard Award and the Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award, according to the firm’s website.
Her firm’s work has also been displayed at prominent museums across the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the National Art Center in Japan and the Venice Architecture Biennale, her website reads.
Yoon received a B.S. in architecture from Cornell in 1995 with the AIA Henry Adams Medal, which honors one student from each graduating class for “excellence throughout their academic career.” She later received the Fulbright Fellowship to Korea in 1998 after earning her M.A. in urban design with distinction from Harvard.