Nov 072004
Authors: Clarke Reader

CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising has a new face.

Mary Littrell took over as the head of the department earlier

this year after being recruited by CSU.

“The faculty was very active in recruiting me,” Littrell said.

“I was looking for something different and challenging.”

Littrell came to CSU from Iowa State University, where she was a

professor for 24 years.

“I’m not teaching, but I’ve enjoyed the students I’ve met,”

Littrell said. “I like the mountains because I’m from the flatlands

of Iowa.”

Littrell’s work for global fair trade has been recognized


“I work with five of the biggest companies in the U.S. and we

just finished up doing a market survey of their customers. They had

never done one before,” Littrell said. “I’m also writing a book

about a group of artisans in India.”

One of Littrell’s proudest moments came when she was named the

Mary B. Welch Distinguished Professor in 2003, ISU’s highest


“There were (only) three women in the group before me,” Littrell

said. “I was really honored and pleased to add to the gender


Now Littrell is taking that passion and transferring it to CSU

and the faculty in the Department of Design and Merchandising are

excited to have her on board.

“She’ll help focus on our research efforts and help secure more

grant money,” said Craig Birdsong, a professor in interior design.

“She’ll also provide vision for the department.”

As head of the department, Littrell will do administrative work

as well as work on programs.

“Right now is a period of listening,” she said. “I’m getting to

know the faculty, programs and budget.”

However, Littrell has many plans for the department, including

giving students different opportunities.

“I want to broaden our collaboration, particularly with

businesses and the industry. I’d like to bring more people here, so

students can network,” Littrell said.

Still, her goals are not simply focused on campus


“I want to expand the international opportunities for students

and start an advisory board that would come to campus and advise on

programs and interact with students,” Littrell said.

Besides helping students, Littrell would also like to expand

faculty research, one of the main reasons faculty members are happy

to have her fill the position.

“She’s well-recognized in our field in terms of research and

leadership,” said Karen Hyllegard, an associate professor in the

department. “We’re very lucky to have her as department head.”

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