Kay Unger

NEW YORK, May 21, 2013—Parsons The New School of Design has announced that alumna Kay Unger has been elected to serve as Chair of its Board of Governors for a term that begins on July 1, 2013.

Unger, who graduated from Parsons in 1968, is an award-winning fashion designer as well as entrepreneur, business owner and influential leader in the fashion and philanthropic spheres. Founder at age 25 of Kay Unger—the first of several successful global fashion design companies she would helm over the years, Kay was elected a trustee of The New School in 2011, and has served as a member of the Parsons Board of Governors since 2009.

"It feels wonderful to be the first Parsons alumna to serve in this position," said Unger. "When I graduated, Parsons was a stand-alone school of art and design. Since then it has joined forces with The New School, a design-led university that offers a rich, interdisciplinary education that is essential for designers to be successful today."

Parsons and The New School are experiencing a transformative moment. David Van Zandt, who became the university’s eighth president in 2011, and Joseph Gromek, who became chair of the university’s Board of Trustees in 2012, are building upon historic strengths in design and the social sciences to launch new degree programs and interdisciplinary study options to equip graduates for globalization, urbanization, and technological innovation.

This vision for The New School will be symbolized by the opening of its University Center in early 2014, bringing together students across the disciplines in a significant new building that reflects the university’s design-led philosophy. In addition, under the leadership of Executive Dean Joel Towers, Parsons will launch a new undergraduate curriculum in fall 2013 that will enable students to study design in context of the other disciplines across The New School, a reflection of how art and design are practiced today. In addition, Parsons is increasing its international presence, which began in 1921 with the founding of Parsons Paris, with the launch of a new Paris campus this fall, as well as a partnership with a new school, the Indian School of Design and Innovation in Mumbai.

"As Parsons and The New School focus on the future, and the role that our students and faculty will play in shaping an increasingly designed world, we could have no better leader than Kay Unger," said Towers. "Kay’s commitment to both design and education has been integral to her efforts at Parsons."

Unger’s most recent undertaking for Parsons was a partnership with Bloomingdale’s to create "b the next," an event featuring former Parsons Fashion Chair Tim Gunn, and top Parsons alumni including Narciso Rodriguez, Tracy Reese, Lela Rose and many others. "b the next" raised funds for Parsons Scholars, a free art and design college-prep program at Parsons for motivated New York City public high school students from diverse backgrounds.

About Kay Unger
Creating a unique and very personal niche in the world of design, Unger is renowned for dressing women across all generations. She launched her namesake label in 1970, and became a founding partner and designer of St. Gillian in 1972 and A.J. Bari in 1975. Unger founded Kay Unger New York in 1995, and served as its partner, designer and Chief Creative Officer of the label and also Phoebe Couture until 2012, and also oversaw the launch of Marchesa Notte. In August 2012, Unger became President and CEO of Kay Unger Design, a company whose products range from clothing and shoes to home products.

Unger is also President and CEO of The Kay Unger Family Foundation, which invests in cancer support and research as well as scholarships for underprivileged youth who are talented in the arts. She has worked with the Epstein Fine Arts Fund (started by her father Julius Epstein, a Chicago investment banker), the Boys and Girls Club of America, Project Elany with the UJA, Kids Stopping AIDS, Hike 4 Hope, The Israel Policy Forum, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer.

Unger is a past President of Fashion Group International, and in that capacity helped raise more than $250,000 for the Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Research Center. She is a supporter of the Sheila C. Johnson Design and Diversity Scholarship Fund at Parsons, and also helped fund the “Give A Spit” campaign, a bone marrow donor drive on college campuses. Among her many awards and accolades, Unger is a founding Member of The Committee of 200, winner of the American Jewish Committee’s Human Relations Award for outstanding professional and civic achievements, and recipient of the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope Cancer Research Hospital.

Parsons The New School for Design is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. For more information, please visit

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