Photo of Patrick Whitney

Patrick Whitney

Co-founder of the D-Lab

Mr. Whitney is the former dean of the Institute of Design (ID), Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), where he was the Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor of Design and an IIT distinguished professor. During his leadership, ID created the first Ph.D. program in design in the USA, became a leading institution in design methods and theory, and created an executive education program translating design to organizational leadership.

Mr. Whitney is widely regarded as a thought leader for pioneering human-centered design and strategic design. He conducts executive seminars and advises many organizations including Aetna, BP, Godrej & Boyce, Proctor & Gamble, SC Johnson, Texas Instruments, and government agencies in Denmark, Hong Kong, India, and the UK. 

Business Week has featured him as a design visionary for bringing together design and business; Forbes named him as one of six members of the ‘E-Gang’ for his work in human-centered design; Fast Company has identified him as a ‘master of design’ for his leadership in the design field of linking the creation of value for users and economic value for companies; Global Entrepreneur Magazine named him one of 25 people worldwide doing the most to bring new ideas to business in China.

As a co-founder and director of the D-Lab, Mr. Whitney applies design methods and frameworks to seemingly intractable public health problems, while expanding human-centered and strategic design to contribute to scholarship and the educational mission of Harvard. 

As a professor in residence at HSPH, Patrick brings design methods and frameworks to improve decision-making in contexts characterized by incomplete and quickly-changing information.

Mr. Whitney earned his bachelor of fine arts in visual communication design at the University of Alberta, followed by a master of fine arts in design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Mr. Whitney was appointed associate professor and chair of the Division of Design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1979. Five years later, he was appointed associate professor and head of communication design at ID. In 1987, he was appointed professor and director, and then dean.