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Kendall College of Art and Design Names Chief Sustainability Officer, Signs Climate Commitment

Kendall College of Art and DesignGRAND RAPIDS — Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design named Gayle DeBruyn as its first Chief Sustainability Officer. DeBruyn has been an assistant professor in design programs at Kendall for 22 years, but her new role will allow her to help guide the college into the next generation of sustainable leadership.

Kendall has been committed to implementing sustainable practices benefiting students and faculty, the surrounding community and the environment, and this new position demonstrates the emphasis that the school will be putting on sustainability under the leadership of new Kendall President David Rosen.

“My goal is to help Kendall College of Art and Design become an important contributor to the sustainability efforts of our region and to accomplish this through the disciplines of fine art and design,” DeBruyn said. “Our students and graduates can contribute significantly to environmental needs and social capital through their work. Our opportunity and responsibility as educators is to shape learning and provide the tools to help our students make those contributions.”

Rosen also believes that the type of creative expression and problem solving found at Kendall will be a catalyst for significant change.

“The power of art and design is to keep us alive and aware of the fact that we can’t put limits on our imagination, or we will live only in the world we can imagine right now, which is only the world that we see right now,” he said.

One of the first sustainable initiatives Kendall has undertaken since naming DeBruyn as CSO is to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a national effort by colleges and universities to address global climate disruption. The mission of this group is to accelerate progress towards climate neutrality and sustainability by empowering the higher education sector to educate students, create solutions and provide leadership-by-example for the rest of society.

Kendall also is engaging with the West Michigan Business Forum and Community Sustainability Partnership, community organizations and leaders attempting to transform the greater Grand Rapids region through the development of sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

In addition to her responsibilities at Kendall, DeBruyn is co-owner of Lake Affect Design Studio in Grand Rapids, which serves clients in commercial, residential and educational/institutional interior design, with an emphasis on sustainable design strategies.

She says she plans to use her knowledge and experience to “provide leadership to the college and connections to the community that will meaningfully integrate the practice of sustainability and learning for our students.” As a LEED-accredited professional with decades of experience under her belt, DeBruyn is now in a position to leverage her talent and resources to positively impact both our local and global communities.

As a unique part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, visit