Business Leader Spotlight: Marvin J. Malecha

NewSchool President & Chief Academic Officer, Marvin Malecha

NewSchool President & Chief Academic Officer, Marvin Malecha

This week, we’re excited to present a business leaders spotlight from Marvin J. Malecha, the President and Chief Academic Officer of the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, which is a globally-recognized and awarded architecture and design school in the heart of San Diego’s East Village neighborhood.

Throughout his career, President Malecha has received numerous accolades and awards, including the James Haecker Distinguished Leadership Award for Architectural Research (2007), William R. and June Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban Planning (2008), the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education (2003), and was one of seven recognized Architectural Educators of the Year Award (2006) from Design Intelligence Magazine.

President Malecha believes that education and practice lie along the same continuum in life and has encouraged others to find the connections between them.

Read what President Malecha had to say below:

What are you most excited about for NewSchool this year?

newschool-5NewSchool is embarking on the path of a more diverse definition of design and design thinking. It is an exciting moment as we organize ourselves to more clearly establish design thinking as the most important strategy for the future of the San Diego region.

Toward this end we are diversifying our programs, recruiting an even more diverse student and faculty community and considering the reshaping of curricular options to include hybrid models of learning.

From your experience, what do you see for the future of San Diego business?

newschool-1San Diego is evolving into one of the important creative business communities in the United States. The combination of universities, a large military presence, and a growing corporate research culture makes this evolution unstoppable.

How this culture is served will be entirely dependent on the embrace of design thought strategies. This is why the location of NewSchool at the center of the development of this culture is so very pertinent to the future of design education.

Any advice for young professionals who want to be in your shoes one day?

newschool-2My advice for young professionals is to first, go from a professional education to practice. Those who go from being a student to being a teacher without an intervening experience have not truly tested themselves. Only after three to five years of practice should the individual pursue an advanced degree.

The combination of practice and advanced academic work provide a base from which to proceed. This will allow the individual to determine their strengths in the areas of advance research or advanced application. Either is important to a life in academics.

Once on the faculty, an individual must be assured that every stage of a career is being addressed. This includes serving on committees and meeting the rigors of tenure demanding publication and creative achievement. It is impossible to properly administer promotion and tenure decisions without having been though the experience personally.

newschool-4To rise to a senior administrative opportunity, it is once again important to build a career in stages, meaning that the individual should have served as a program chair, dean or associate dean. It is critical that during this time the individual become familiar with budget and personnel leadership. The perspective of these positions provides the maturity to lead on a greater scale.

Great advice! Now, name at least one book that is currently on your night stand:

  • 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles C. Mann
  • A New Look at Humanism in Architecture and Urban Design, Robert Lamb Hart
  • The Innovators, Walter Isaacson
  • Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull

In a parallel universe, what career would you be in?

I am certain that the inclination to be on a continual learning path would guide my choice. I am also certain that design would have something to do with this parallel path. As much as I care for architecture, I assume that would also emerge. However, I can also see myself in a startup investigating entirely new products and services.

As much as I care for architecture, I assume that would also emerge. However, I can also see myself in a startup investigating entirely new products and services.

Which famous person would you like to take out for coffee, past or present?

Thomas Jefferson. His curiosity seems boundless. His willing spirit led him on a path of exploration that reached from the design of roof structures for a storage shed on the prairie, to the design of Montecello, to the design of a nation. He was the great champion of the rights of man, yet, he is complexity and contradiction.

A special thank you goes to Marvin Malecha for taking the time to sit with the Chamber team and answer our questions! Do you know a Chamber member with a great story to tell? Nominate them for a business leader spotlight by emailing