Italicized titles denote current and emeritus faculty.

Charles Goslin

was a mentor to many, including me. He taught his students to think in ideas and speak those ideas in an exciting visual language. He gave me the foundations to become a strong designer and taught me by example how to teach.

—Michelle Nahum-Albright, BFA Communications Design ’75

Claudia Bitran! Visiting Assistant Professor of Fine Arts

She pushed me to accomplish so much. Professor Bitran would take the time to talk to all students individually and really focus on what they need for their art. When I was having a hard time, trying to appease an audience instead of focusing on what I wanted to say, without even realizing that’s what I was doing, she sat me down and pointed that out to me, and since that moment, my art has really transformed and changed into something I’m absolutely proud of.

—Karisa (Clem) Hahn, BFA Fine Arts (Painting) ’23

Dwight Johnson

was my professor for Light, Color, and Design when I attended Pratt in the ’80s. As a professor, Mr. Johnson helped me understand and explore how powerful color is when creating visual messages, but he helped even more by showing me what it was like to work as a designer. He gave me my first (paid) freelance opportunity doing mechanical work in his studio [and he] would walk me through the process of freelance work, working in-house, how to prep a portfolio, getting internships, how important networking is, and the business end of design. The best plus was that he happened to be one of the few Black design professors at the time, and that was such an inspiration to me.

—Andrew Bass Jr., BFA Communications Design ’85

Meg Wacha! Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Information

The thing I appreciate the most about Professor Wacha is their prioritization of students as humans. I always felt welcomed and validated in their classroom, allowing me to make mistakes without shame and nurture topics that I had interest in. It’s all I could ever ask for in a professor!

—Miriam Sokolska, MSLIS ’24 

Eleanor Baum, dean of engineering.

She was always there to help her students, in and out of the classroom.

—Terry Mitchell, BEEE ’86

Alexis Karl! Visiting Instructor

Still a mentor to this day. When you join Alexis’s classes at Pratt, she does not ask your major . . . she approaches everyone as artists who are in her class to explore concepts and to grow creatively. It took the pressure away from feeling like I had to “be a photographer” and allowed me to try out ideas I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I had her junior year and my senior thesis was totally able to thrive because of her.

—Claire Hansen, BFA Photography ’20

Peter Barna Associate Professor Emeritus and Harvey Bernstein Adjunct Professor (CCE) of Industrial Design

in the industrial design department. I took senior design with them. This was one of my favorite classes, because it integrated everything we had learned, and they inspired us to think both aesthetically and practically. . . . While working on my thesis, I used to travel to Harvey’s office in the Flatiron building, and would have lunch with him and the people that worked in his office and would get feedback from the whole group. 

—Marian Gravel, MID ’94

Floyd Hughes! Adjunct Associate Professor (CCE) of Undergraduate Communications Design

—Jessica Mellen, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’18

Beverly Semmes and John Monti Professor of Fine Arts

when they team-taught Senior Sculpture!

—Shannon Stockbridge, BFA Fine Arts (Sculpture) ’15, Pratt Munson staff

Muriel’s response has stayed with me for nearly 50 years. I don’t remember her exact words, but this is the meaning behind what she said to me: “Why are you in New York?” And then she gave me instructions.

Susan Woodland, BFA Fashion Design ’77; MSLIS ’97
Muriel Fleming

In the fall of 1974 I arrived in New York determined to study fashion design and make a life here. I took a class in textiles that fall with Muriel Fleming. After class one day she asked me what cultural things I had seen or done in the past week. I responded that I was busy with classwork and had hardly left the neighborhood. Muriel’s response has stayed with me for nearly 50 years. I don’t remember her exact words, but this is the meaning behind what she said to me: “Why are you in New York?” And then she gave me instructions:

Go to the theater, the movies, museums.

Spend an hour or two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If you can’t afford a ticket to the New York Philharmonic, watch what people are wearing as they arrive at Lincoln Center on opening night, or at the Metropolitan Opera.

Look at the windows at department stores.

Watch people on the street and see what they’re wearing.

I did what Muriel told me to do, and I still do. It is rare that a week goes by when I can’t look back at what I’ve seen or heard, in NYC or wherever I happen to be. . . . Culture is still a major driver in my life, and in my work. Thank you, Muriel Fleming.

—Susan Woodland, BFA Fashion Design ’77; MSLIS ’97

Professor Sebastian Kaupert! Adjunct Associate Professor of Undergraduate Communications Design

Still a mentor, 20 years later.

—Aray M. Till, BFA Communications Design ’08, Pratt Munson faculty

Philip Rodman

I started out in the School of Architecture in 1968. My freshman English professor, Philip Rodman, got me thinking and reading. Eventually, I transferred to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I took more literature and aesthetics courses with Professor Rodman, and upon graduation in 1972, he suggested to our very small class that we consider continuing our studies at Pratt’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I enrolled that summer, worked as an intern at the library under Assistant Director Tad Kumatz, and graduated with an MLS in 1974. This was the start of a 42-year career.

—Jean-Jacques Strayer, BA Humanities and Social Sciences ’72; MLS ’74 

Richard Lindner

I go way back to 1957 while majoring in illustration. Richard Lindner was an unforgettable influence. He stretched our imaginations to their fullest and made us really think about what we were creating and the feelings our art could generate. I thank him every time I sit down at my drawing board!

—Debby Davis, Certificate, Textile Design ’61

Father Michael Perry

—Nívea Ortiz, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’90

Kathleen Dunne! Professor of Undergraduate Architecture

—Divya Majithia Shah, BArch ’22

Julie Pochron! Adjunct Assistant Professor (CCE), and BFA Photography ’91

—Kara Birnbaum, BFA Photography ’18 

Lennart Anderson

was my freshman figure drawing professor from 1967 to 1968. His sensitive instruction instilled a respect for the human figure and a seriousness to the discipline of working from direct observation of the model. His teaching was amplified by his own work, which was being exhibited at that time by the Graham Gallery and at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work was praised by the New York Times art critic John Canaday, who called him “one of the best painters working in New York today.” His teaching and commitment to his painting has sustained me in my work over the past 50 years.

—Douglas R. Giebel, BFA Fine Arts ’71

She encouraged me to explore nontraditional opportunities, shaping not just my academic path but my life as a whole. Katherine is a mentor who extends far beyond academia.

Rebecca Yu, BFA Art and Design Education ’23; MA Art and Design Education ’24
Katherine Huala! Assistant Professor of Art and Design Education

I have had the privilege to be mentored by Katherine since Spring 2021, initially as an undergraduate Art and Design Education student and now as a graduate student. Her dedication to art and education led me to pursue a career in art education. Witnessing her create engaging and inclusive classroom environments has been invaluable. She encouraged me to explore nontraditional opportunities, shaping not just my academic path but my life as a whole. Katherine is a mentor who extends far beyond academia.

—Rebecca Yu, BFA Art and Design Education ’23; MA Art and Design Education ’24

Irving Perlman

I had a class titled Personnel Administration. The teacher was Irving Perlman. He inspired me to explore that area as a career choice. Thanks to him I pursued an MBA and a lifelong career as a human resources professional. Today I am continuing his legacy by teaching human resources/business classes at Houston Community College.

—Barry Halpern, BS Food Science and Management ’68

Gerry Contreras Professor Emeritus of Undergraduate Communications Design

was head of the Communications Design department and taught illustration classes during my time at Pratt in the late ’80s. He was an outstanding and personable educator that stressed the value of drawing fundamentals. Gerry challenged students and faculty to maintain high standards of quality and productivity and left a lasting impression on my work ethic and creative thinking.

—Chris Nelson, Communications Design (Illustration)

Lawrence Blough Professor of Undergraduate Architecture

—Meshal Alradadi, BArch ’23

Jane Haimes-Cantres

Even as I studied under her at a relatively early stage in my design development, I would say Jane Haimes-Cantres was truly my mentor. She taught a particularly comprehensive foundation year LCD (Light, Color, and Design) course . . . Jane’s curriculum incorporated both an academic and a scientific approach to learning design, but perhaps more importantly, it was also a mini-tour through art history. I can proudly thank her for my perfectionism when dealing in all things color theory (or hate her for it!). I am sure that her teaching made me “see” so much more to the world.

—Andrew Sturgess, BFA Communications Design ’98

George McNeil gave me the gift of love for art history. It has been an unending joy of my life as a teacher and painter.

Ursula Gilgulin, BFA Fine Arts ’67; MFA Fine Arts ’72 
George McNeil

gave me the gift of love for art history. It has been an unending joy of my life as a teacher and painter. The art history courses I took from him in grad school were a gift that never ends.

—Ursula Gilgulin, BFA Fine Arts ’67; MFA Fine Arts ’72 

Anita Merk Adjunct Assistant Professor of Undergraduate Communications Design

taught me how to be a great graphic designer. She was tough but fair.

—Jeff Rothberg, BFA Communications Design (Graphic Design) ’11 

Professor Anita Merk

—Alyssa Phillips, BFA Communications Design ’16

John Lehr Associate Professor of Photography

—Nicha Chanthanuraks, BFA Photography ’18

Max Gimblett and Toshio Odate

I attended Pratt from 1984 to 1989. Two of the most important teachers I had then, whom I’m still in touch with, were Max Gimblett, and Toshio Odate.

—Eric Manigian, BFA ’89

Philip Pearlstein

In 1963, when I was in the final semester of the MS program, I had a dispute with a professor over my submissions for his 3D class. Frustrated, I stopped going to class . . . Philip Pearlstein, my painting instructor in my final year, heard of this dispute and contacted me, suggesting that I go talk to the teacher in question. I did this, and it was mutually decided that I did not have to attend more classes but would need to submit a final project to the class at the end of the semester. Well, I did a sculpture out of a six-foot fragment of a chopped-down telephone pole—spikes and all (which I must have had help getting back to my room on Waverly Avenue). Anyway, I submitted the work of art at the end of the semester, passed the class, and graduated from Pratt, later becoming an art teacher in the Baltimore area for 25 years. 

—Francis Katz, BS Art Education ’62; MS Art Education ’63

Read more mentorship stories from the Spring 2024 special section.