Lindsey May, a clinical assistant professor of architecture and assistant director of the architecture program, has been named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Strategic Initiatives for the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. May will oversee several priority initiatives at the school, including advising and recruitment, and will work closely with program directors to plan and manage undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
“Lindsey brings understanding, creativity and commitment to everything she does at Maryland,” said Dr. Dawn Jourdan, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “As a practitioner, she has a unique purview into a students’ path to professional life and the skills they need to succeed. I am thrilled to see her take on such a valuable role at MAPP+D.”
May is the founding principle of Studio Mayd, a commercial and residential architecture design studio in Washington, D.C. In 2021, May was one of six architects to win the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, considered one of the most prestigious awards in North America. Her entry, under the competition and award’s theme of “Housekeeping,” was an intentional deconstruction of the learning and process of a young practitioner—the unglorified realities of small projects and billing rates that comprise everyday practice. She was named one of 30 Women Changing the Game in D.C. by DC Fray Magazine in 2021.
May joined Maryland’s architecture program in 2016 after moving from New York to Washington, D.C., quickly becoming a mainstay in the undergraduate studio, a committed graduate thesis advisor and regular collaborator among faculty and staff. In 2017, she established a writing course for architecture students to help them navigate the tricky art of communicating ideas to clients. She has served as the Architecture Program’s assistant director for the past three years, a role battle-tested during the COVID-19 pandemic when campus abruptly shuttered in March of 2020. She led a Digital Transition Advisory Group of professional faculty in translating coursework to a virtual platform, leveraging the digital tools they rely on in practice to create an engaging, collaborative learning experience for students.
“Lindsey May has been an essential asset to the Architecture Program since she came on board as assistant director,” said Architecture Director Brian Kelly. “She is a very able administrator who has a good sense of what students need to get out of higher education.”
Her efforts won May the Dean’s Award for leadership and vision in 2020 as well as the Outstanding Teaching Award. She was also named AIADC’s inaugural Architect + Educator Award for her advancement of architecture education.
May takes over the position from Professor Madlen Simon, who has served as associate dean for the past five years. When May first inquired about coming to Maryland, it was Simon, a fellow Princeton University alumna, who invited her to sit in on a studio review, introducing her to Kelly and other colleagues at the school. Now, says Simon, she welcomes May into her next role at Maryland.
“I knew that Lindsey would be a great addition to our faculty,” said Simon. “Fast forward several years and I'm even more pleased that she joined us. She is the perfect person to take on this role during my sabbatical.”
As MAPP+D’s next Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, May is committed to delivering a comprehensive, meaningful education and growing a community committed to making an impact on the built environment. Below, she talks about filling big shoes, what she discovered during the pandemic and where she sees education going in the future:
She hopes to continue the good, often invisible work of her predecessor: May takes the reins from Professor Madlen Simon, who May says has built the successful, often unseen infrastructure and processes that keep the school running. “Mady has accomplished so much in this role. Along with Brent Hernandez and the advising team she has built a system that’s accessible and transparent. It’s the stuff around the school that somehow seems to just happen: advising, improvements to university policy, recruitment and events. But there’s a big team behind the scenes; it will be interesting to see the rest of the iceberg.”
A lesson learned from the pandemic will define student success: For May and her colleagues, successfully translating the nuances of a studio course to a virtual space was a creative and tech-centric feat. But it also underscored the importance of mental health and the role it plays in a student’s ability to succeed—or even participate—in the college experience. “After that first partial semester online, I had this realization that our efforts extended well beyond the logistics and administrative needs of course delivery to understanding students, faculty and staff holistically; it helped me think of student success as an ecosystem of what happens both in and out of school. Now, because of that experience, I think there’s much more interest in reinforcing that sense of belonging. Part of the opportunity of coming back is reestablishing those community ties together.”
The destination may be the same, but every journey is different. Whether an architecture undergraduate or a working professional pursuing a graduate degree, each student comes to Maryland with different learning styles, backgrounds and situations, says May, a fact laid bare during the pandemic. She sees her team as critical to helping them reach the finish line. “We must acknowledge that every student, staff and faculty member has their own set of circumstances. While a students’ program and class structure may be different, they are all there for the same reason: to find success in school and success when they leave us, regardless of their path.”
The future of education excellence is a mash-up: May sees MAPP’s program curricula leveraging the skills and flexibility amassed during remote learning to enhance the benefits of being together. “This was really a transition year for us; I think we learned a lot about how to come back and be in person again, while not forgetting the skills we learned online. And that’s a great place for us to be, it’s an opportunity for us to take the best practices of both worlds. As classes continue to return in-person, I see us really hitting our stride.”