University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee names Mo Zell interim dean of the new College of the Arts and Architecture

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has named Mo Zell as interim dean of the newly formed College of the Arts and Architecture. Zell, who has served as associate dean and interim dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) since 2017, will lead the new college effective July 1, 2023.

“I’m pleased to announce that Mo Zell has accepted the position of interim dean for the College of the Arts and Architecture,” said UWM Interim Provost Scott Gronert. “Having joined UWM and the School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 2008, Mo brings a wealth of experience and energy to the role.”

The UWM College of the Arts and Architecture will unite the School of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Peck School of the Arts, combining the academic departments of architecture, art and design, dance, film, music, theatre and urban planning. Both schools will maintain their strong identities and continue to exist as their own units under the new umbrella of the College of the Arts and Architecture.

The creation of the College of the Arts and Architecture is a key component of UW-Milwaukee’s 2030 Action Plan, a strategic initiative designed to address the challenges facing higher education and position UW-Milwaukee for future success. The plan involves realigning eight schools and colleges at UWM into four new colleges.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the College of the Arts and Architecture,” Zell said. “This is a pivotal time for UWM, and I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students and our external partners to build a vibrant, interdisciplinary learning community poised to achieve new heights of success. Together, we will provide current and future students with unparalleled opportunities for creative expression and innovation.”

Since joining UWM as an assistant professor in 2008, Zell created the externship program, founded SUPERjury and Mobile Design Box pop-up gallery, and launched the school’s Design + Construction Institute. Her appointment as interim dean of the College of the Arts and Architecture comes less than one year after being named interim dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning.

“I know firsthand that our two schools have overlapping shared interests, including strong ties to the Milwaukee region, academic programs driven largely by experiential learning, and a focus on creativity and design,” Zell said. “And we have a history of productive collaborations that have drawn from both schools’ strengths.”

Through a joint National Endowment for the Arts grant, the two schools produced several site-specific dance performances performed at SARUP and the Milwaukee Art Museum. In October, students from both schools participated in an interactive design charrette to help generate ideas for the redesign of the Highland Pedestrian Bridge connecting downtown Milwaukee’s Deer District to Water Street. Peck School faculty regularly participate in architecture design studio reviews.

“With the new college, we can scale our collaborations to have even greater impact,” Zell said.

In addition to her achievements in academia, Zell is as an accomplished architect and author. She is principal of the award-winning design and research practice, bauenstudio, with partner Marc Roehrle. She co-founded Women in Design Milwaukee and is serving in leadership positions with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), stepping in as president in July. In 2021, she was recognized as a Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence in the mentor category. Her book, The Architectural Drawing Course, is a popular resource providing tools and techniques for architectural drawings to students and design professionals.

Zell received her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree from Yale University. Before working at UWM, Zell taught at Clemson University, North Carolina State University, and Northeastern University.