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Art and Design Professor Jackson leaves legacy of collaboration

By Aaron Guggenheim, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 15, 2013

Art and Design Prof. Shaun Jackson, who suffered serious third degree burns in a plane crash in Sarasota, Fla. on Saturday, passed away Tuesday afternoon. He was 63 and is survived by his wife, Cathy, and family.

Jackson was in critical condition at the Regional Burn Center at Tampa General Hospital when he passed, the Bradenton Herald reported. Neither the University nor Tampa General Hospital have announced the cause of his death.

Jackson held interdisciplinary professorships in the School of Art and Design, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Ross School of Business.

Jackson began his career in the design industry while he was still a student at the University. As a student he founded Eclipse Inc., which has grown into a multi-million dollar design and manufacturing company.

In two decades in the industry, Jackson acquired more than 50 patents and received numerous design awards, including the IDEA award from Business Week. His design firm, Shaun Jackson Designs, worked with clients ranging from Apple to Nike to General Electric Medical Systems.

Jan-Henrik Andersen, an associate professor of Art and Design, said Jackson’s work in the industrial design industry was well respected. He added that Jackson prided himself on building moveable technology that was “comfortable, functional and stylish.”

“Shaun always strived for excellence (in his work),” Andersen said. “He always tried to install a high standard of intellectual and artistic craftsmanship in his students.”

Art and Design Dean Gunalan Nadarajan echoed Andersen’s sentiments in an e-mail he sent to the school’s community. He wrote that Jackson’s passing was an incredible loss to the University community.

“Shaun has been a dedicated and beloved member of our community, mentoring generations of designers and sharing his optimism and love of life with us all,” Nadarajan wrote. “He was the model of an interdisciplinary design educator.”

One of Jackson’s former students, Art and Design junior Taylor Ross, fondly remembers the professor for his numerous and long-winded anecdotes about his experiences in the industrial world. She said his real-world experience and gift as an educator made him an extraordinary professor.

“I learned more in his class than I have in any of my other classes,” Ross said. “I just learned a lot of valuable lessons from him … he teaches students the value of working really hard.”

Ross added that Jackson’s drive to design products that were perfect and professional was highly influential on his students.

“He always strived for excellence in all aspects of his life and it definitely rubbed off on his students,” she said.

Jackson even offered a industrial design drawing class on Saturday mornings after realizing there weren’t enough courses on the subject offered at the University. Art and Design sophomore Terence Harp spoke about his experience in Jackson’s weekend class.

“It was the best class I took, and it wasn’t even for credit,” Harp said.

Harp said Jackson brought high-level designers as guest speakers and worked hard to make sure students would have the requisite design drawing skills for when they graduated and began to work in the industry.

“Among the students, we all had been touched by him,” Harp said. “He helped make a lot of this stuff happen in (the design program).”

Professor Andersen said Jackson’s work should live on in his contribution to the Art and Design program at the University.

“It is my hope that his legacy in bridge building between business and engineering and art and architecture be continued,” Andersen said. “That’d be the best legacy.”

Nadarajan wrote that the school would notify students once plans were finalized for memorial services.