In addition to heading IIT's Institute of Design in Chicago, the largest graduate school of design in the United States, Patrick Whitney is the Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor of Design. He has published and lectured throughout the world about how to make technological innovations more humane, the link between design and business strategy, and methods of designing interactive communications and products. His writing has focused on new frameworks of design that respond to two transformations: the shift from mass-production to flexible production; and the shift from national markets to markets that are both global and “markets of one.”
In a June 2006 profile BusinessWeek dubbed the Canadian native a “design visionary out to bridge the chasm between the cultures of business and design.” At IIT, he has pioneered a dual master's program that merges industrial design and business administration disciplines, with a view to turning out MBA graduates with a deep understanding of the innovation process. And, under Whitney's guidance, IIT's design institute organized the “Design for the New China Markets” conference in Beijing in December 2005 that earned rave reviews.
Whitney is on the distinguished advisor board of the Association of Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group in Computer Human Interaction. He has been on the jury of numerous award programs, including the 1995 Presidential Design Awards, and was a member of the White House Council on Design. He was chairman of the program of the 1978 U.S. Conference of the International Council on Graphic Design Associations, which was the first major meeting addressing the issues of evaluating design from the perspective of users. He has served as president of the American Center for Design and as editor of its annual publication, the Design Journal. He also edited “Design in the Information Environment,” a book published by Knopf in 1984.
Whitney has consulted to numerous corporations, including Aetna Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., McDonald's Corp. and Zebra Technologies Corp., and has conducted private education programs for executives from government agencies and corporations in the United States, Europe and Asia.