For the first time in its 135-year history, Pratt has a named professorship.
Funded by a $3.5 million donation from alumna Jane B. Nord and named in her honor, the professorship is geared to innovating fashion design at Pratt and beyond. Pratt’s chairperson for its fashion department, Jennifer Minniti, will serve as the first named professor, which is meant to attract a series of leaders.
In other Pratt news, Adam Friedman has switched tracks from the Pratt Center’s director for community development to the Pratt Institute’s chief strategy officer. Lena Afridi is serving as the center’s interim director.
Friedman’s new role includes working on a project tied to BankStreet College’s and the department of education’s plans to launch a new school in Brooklyn that will be focused on design and social justice. Pratt is helping to develop curriculum and aims to engage the design industry in the guidance for the school.
Noting how the creative economy is a key factor in driving the New York City’s economy, Friedman said simultaneously that it does not reflect the diversity of New York. The aim of the school is to create a more robust pipeline that will funnel more New Yorkers into the creative sectors. “This is going to be located in Brooklyn and it should reflect the diversity of Brooklyn,” he said, adding that it will be a zoned school that will not require an entrance exam for middle school students.
At this stage, it looks like the school will range from sixth graders to seniors in high school. The opening is slated for the fall of 2024.
Over the past three years, the Pratt Institute has had nearly 200 projects between faculty and community groups. Pratt Institute’s proposal for the Bank Street-supported school was one of six that was selected from a field of about 50.
Friedman is also involved with a partnership with New York City College of Technology, which us know as CityTech, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to create a hub that will accelerate faculty-devised projects and develop technologies and strategies in response to business community needs. It is called the Research Yard of Pratt Institute, CityTech and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Fifty percent of the $6 million project is coming from the New York City Council’s 2022 budget. Under construction, half of the 40,000-square-foot facility will be available this fall and the other half will be a few months later.
The Yard will offer memberships to companies that want to learn what the latest emerging technologies are, including climate mitigation ones. The alliance is in line with Pratt’s mission to create opportunities for designers to be impactful beyond aesthetics and elite fashion. “What I see is more and more students addressing issues of climate change and racial injustice. And the business community must step up not only if they want to attract talent, but also if they want to remain viable. Every company has to have a triple bottom line in the future. They have to be aware of what they’re doing financially and also the impacts they’re having in the communities both small and large,” Friedman said.
One sign of how consumers and companies are becoming more conscientious about their behavior is the interest in New York State’s Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act. If passed, the Fashion Act would make apparel and footwear brands with more than $100 million in revenues doing business in New York map their supply chains, among other stipulations, with the aim of providing greater transparency in relation to their environmental and social impact.