Design Intelligence Recognizes NESADSU

Design Intelligence magazine, in its fall 2010 issue on “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools”, has ranked both The New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University’s undergraduate and graduate interior design programs among the top 10 in the nation.

On hearing the news, Acting Suffolk President Barry Brown said, “Please let me add my congratulations to all those at NESAD who have contributed to this honor. We are so appreciative of the effort of faculty, administration and staff to achieve this ranking. The recognition by Design Intelligence is further confirmation of the growing national and international stature of NESAD and the great potential it holds for all of us at the University.” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ken Greenberg, noting that NESADSU was “in very impressive company”, also acclaimed the “extraordinary achievement”.

The rankings, drawn from a survey of leading design firms, reflect “which college and university programs are best preparing students for professional practice”. NESADSU’s undergraduate program was ranked 5th overall, the graduate program tied for 6th, with the University of Oregon and Boston Architectural College (formerly the Boston Architectural Center). The results were further broken down by a skills assessment. NESADSU was ranked number one in Communication, number three in Design (in a tie with Parsons School of Design, RISD, University of Cincinnati and Syracuse), and number two in Sustainable Design Practices and Principles (with Florida State, Marymount University, Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of Florida).

Participants in the survey were design professionals “who have direct experience in hiring and in evaluating the performance of recent architecture and design graduates” (DI Survey Methodology). Research for the surveys was also provided by CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation), among other accrediting and professional entities.

2011 is the first year that NESADSU has been mentioned in the survey. Enormous credit for the Interior Design programs’ successes should go to Program Co-Directors Karen Clarke and Nancy Hackett, as well as to all full-time and adjunct faculty members, to say nothing of our interior design students. Congratulations to everyone!


As we headed off to press, the 2012 Design Intelligence rankings were made public and NESADSU really shone this time. The undergraduate program in Interior Design moved from 5th place to 3rd (in a tie with Pratt Institute, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Florida and the BAC), while the graduate program moved up from 6th to 3rd in a tie with Pratt. In this year’s two skills assessment categories, NESADSU ranked 2nd in Communication and 3rd in Cross-Disciplinary Teamwork (with Auburn University). Once again, heartiest congratulations to Karen and Nancy, as well as to the faculty, students and staff of the program. This is quite an achievement!


Featured Designers: Brittney Dion, Wawa Zhu, Courtney Conklin Kresel

NESADSU’s Karen Clarke One of the 25 Most Admired Educators in Design

To add to the acclaim heaped upon NESADSU’s Interior Design program by Design Intelligence magazine, in their annual rankings of Interior Design programs nationwide, we’re very happy to announce that Interior Design Program Co-Director, Karen Clarke, has been named to DI’s list of the 25 Most Admired Educators of 2012. In the elite group of 25, Karen joins such luminaries as Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, as well as others from Cornell, Harvard, the Universities of Pennsylvania and Texas, Syracuse and other highly regarded institutions.

The recipients of this honor, both educators and administrators, were chosen from the disciplines of architecture, industrial design and landscape architecture, in addition to interior design, based on “extensive input from thousands of design professionals, academic department heads and students”.

Karen, who earned a BAA degree from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto (Canada) and an MFA at Boston University, taught at Mount Ida College, Newbury College, Wentworth Institute of Technology and at Vancouver (B.C.) Community College before coming to Suffolk in 1996. She is also the sole proprietor of an interior design firm in Lincoln, MA that specializes in residential and commercial interior design.

Karen has been at the helm of NESADSU’s Interior Design program, which attracts undergraduate and graduate students from all over the United States, as well as from numerous other countries, for 15 years. She was joined in 2007 by Nancy Hackett, who is now Program Co-Director, and together they have brought accolades of all sorts to NESADSU and to the University.

Our very enthusiastic congratulations to Karen on this remarkable achievement.



Adoption Story of Hope, Opportunity, Family, Survival and Reunion: Marissa Borst (Interior Design 2006)

As you may or may not not be aware, November is National Adoption Month, a time of celebrations of adoption nationwide. For one, there will be a celebration of reunion.

Marissa Eve Borst (Interior Design 2006), born Marissa Sumal-Jag Lanticse, was the 13th child born into a poverty-stricken family in Tagum, Davao, Philippines. Only eight of these children survived. At seven months old, Marissa was declared second-degree malnourished, had parasitic and respiratory infections, had lost vision in her right eye, and was dying of the measles. Christ the King Hospital, now known as Bishop Joseph Regan Memorial Hospital, in Tagum City admitted Marissa as a charity case. She spent months fighting for her life and won, thanks to the staff at the hospital. Worried about not being able to cover the medical expenses, no one came to claim her. Marissa became a ward of the state and spent nine months in two orphanages.

In September of 1983, Marissa was adopted by the Borst family, a true silver lining to her story. Though born into a difficult world, she spent the next 27 years blessed, surrounded by people who loved her. Her life was enriched with music, dance and art. The latter brought her to NESADSU.

In the spring of 2011, about to turn 30, Marissa started to pine for something more – a need to know what was missing in her life. She started the search for her family. Through Facebook, she found a group of other adoptees from the same adoption agency, International Alliance for Children; she connected with others through FAN (Filipino Adoptees Network), and was able to find many of the caretakers from the hospital. She also connected with her biological brothers and sisters, and just recently “met” her father for the “first” time through video chat. It was an emotional, life turning moment. Marissa hopes to return as soon as possible to the Philippines to be reunited with everyone who played an important role in her survival, and to meet her family once again.

Marissa graduated from NESADSU in 2006, with a BFA in Interior Design, and is currently a commercial/hospitality interior designer with Architecture + Design Associates, Inc. ( in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, as well as the owner of All’s Well That Ends Well Designs (, which specializes in miscellaneous art and graphic design. She is a member of Cambridge Who’s Who, Filipino Young Professionals DC, and will be the 2012 Director of Programming for the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality ( This fall, AWTEW is teaming up to develop and execute an arts program with FACETS Cares. FACETS is a non-profit organization that helps those in need of emergency shelter, food and medical care, helping them gain safe, sustainable and permanent housing, while working with them to end the cycle of poverty through educational, life skills and career counseling programs ( In her spare time, Marissa teaches piano and choreographs competitive dancing, takes yoga and dance classes and spends as much time as possible with her three-year-old daughter Eve.

For more information on any of Marissa’s activities, email her at