Cathy Nowicki has taught at HPU for 15 years and was part of the team that helped the Interior Design Department get permanent CIDA Accreditation in 2009. She is an assistant professor of the practice of interior design and visual merchandising design. She was appointed by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) as a site visitor in 2015 to analyze and accredit interior design programs across the USA and Canada. She travels to campuses, reviews at student work and meets with administrators to make sure they are upholding CIDA rules and regulations. Nowicki was also appointed to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Carolinas Board of Directors in 2015 and she established the High Point University IIDA Campus Center.
How do you contribute to HPU’s mission to ensure every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people?
As one of the design/interior design specialists on campus, all our courses in the School of Arts and Design are crafted to expose students to the myriad of options viable for graduates of our program. We have been practitioners in the industry and feature our professional experience in class when lecturing and creating design projects. We guide our students through curriculum advising, arranging job experience at the High Point Furniture Market (one of the largest premier furnishing and design tradeshows), industry internships and assist them with portfolios, resumes and interviewing skills tailored to our industry.
How do you help students develop life skills that they will use to achieve lives of success and significance after they graduate from HPU?
Our programs are Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredited, which demand the lifetime learning and retention of the skills needed to work and thrive in our industries. Our projects teach students to use the daily skills and knowledge essential for careers in interior design, visual merchandising design and fashion merchandising when working with buyers in a retail environment through professional practice. Allied courses flesh out the specific skillset with the essential skills of sales and marketing, which designers rely on as business owners and operators.
What is a way that you provide students with experiential learning opportunities?
Students have the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, the spring semester of their junior year. Most of our students work at the High Point Furniture Market for hands-on industry experience interfacing with CEOs, CFOs, designers and retailers from around the globe. Many of these connections lead to jobs after graduation. We also offer industry field trips to show building construction and remodeling, furniture construction, and textile fabrication and marketing. We also connect with alumni working in local design practices and places like New York City. The professional members of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) also act as mentors to our students.
What are you looking forward to most for this academic year?
This year we have a lot of freshmen that are very enthusiastic about the sterling reputation of our interior design program, so that is really exciting!
What’s one thing you want students and parents to know about HPU?
There is no other university or college that I know of (and I travel to a lot of them) that does what we do with and for our students at HPU.
What’s one way you generate creativity or productivity?
Our real-life studio projects generate creativity, productivity and enthusiasm on campus and in the Greater High Point and Piedmont Triad regions of North Carolina. It is why impressive employers in places like New York City hire HPU interior design graduates!
What is your favorite quote?
I like any quotes by Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, or Franklin D. Roosevelt. All three were visionaries going through extenuating life circumstances with courage and grit! I also like: “Stay calm and carry on!”
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is the Butterfly Café inside the Caine Conservatory.
What do you love most about working at HPU?
I love working at HPU because of the incredible faculty, staff, administrators and students who always pull together to get the job done. HPU is a family. I don’t know of another campus that exemplifies this more than HPU.