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Fuller’s inscription of one of his books to Harold and Mary Cohen
Buckminster Fuller, Mary Cohen, and Anne Fuller
Fuller on Cohen, January 1963
Six years ago, SIU’s Dean Burnett Shryock decided to
inaugurate a Department of Design. Harold Cohen has done
such an outstanding job that in these few years his Department
of Design at SIU has risen to pre-eminence among American
schools of design. His is unique: it enlarges the scope of
design as a secondary consideration in industrial and craft
undertakings to a primary function. Design in his school means
the prime initiative which conceives of the total enterprise in
its full world-around economic, physical, and psychological
ramifications. By this concept, both domestic and world
industrialization and national policy of the U.S.A. falls under
the category of design.
The strategy of scientific exploration, its implementation
and coordination comes within the scope of prime design.
Prime design has no patron. It takes the initiative. In all other
contemporary schools of design and architecture, both in
the U.S. and abroad, it is assumed that graduating students
will undertake such work only as is conceived of and
commissioned by others.
Harold Cohen’s design school involves hypothesized eventual
coordination of the interests of all other departments of
Southern Illinois University which have already felt the effect
of Cohen’s department and subscribe enthusiastically to its
competence. He worked out for them, on his own initiative,
new economical, transparent, disposable live mouse and
rat containers. So vast an improvement are these containers
that one million of them have been ordered by laboratories
throughout the United States. This advance included the
manufacturing and distribution initiative and brought patents
to SIU which are returning significant royalties.
Harold Cohen has been brilliant in the staffing of his
department and in his success in carrying his budgetary
capability forward. His school has gone from an
undergraduate enrollment of 5 to 200 undergraduates in
the last five years, with a number of graduate students now
enrolled. World wide, students are transferring to SIU.