Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is pleased to announce the founding of the William O. Steinmetz ’50 and Betty Cooke ’46 Chair in Design. Established through a generous commitment by Betty Cooke in October 2019 in memory of Steinmetz, it is the third endowed chair at the College and the first among MICA’s design education programs. The endowed chair extends the remarkable creative and philanthropic legacy of Steinmetz and Cooke at MICA.
Steinmetz, who died in 2016, was a celebrated artist, designer, entrepreneur, educator, and philanthropist whose gifts of creativity and wisdom continue to enrich MICA, the Baltimore design community and beyond. His enduring association with the College spanned over 75 years, beginning with his first Saturday classes as a 13-year-old. Raised in the Highlandtown neighborhood of East Baltimore, Steinmetz joined the faculty upon graduation. An instructor for nearly twenty years, Steinmetz chaired the Foundation and Industrial Design departments. He went on to serve as one of the first Alumni Council Chairs and a beloved Trustee for twenty-five years.
Cooke is among the world's foremost jewelry designers. A MICA faculty member for twenty-two years, Cooke married Steinmetz in 1955, and they opened a design shop and studio in Mount Vernon. In 1965, the couple launched The Store LTD, an iconic and long-running design store that carries works by Cooke and other leading artists. Today, Cooke’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.
Cooke and Steinmetz were each honored with MICA’s Alumni Award for their leadership in the field of design. In 2014, MICA awarded them with honorary doctorates their devotion and service to the College. Their unparalleled commitment to MICA includes transformative gifts to support the William O. Steinmetz '50 Designer-in-Residence, an annual lecture and design education series; Gateway Building Endowment and Performance Space, BBOX (Black Box, Bill and Betty); Fred IV H’14 and Jonna Lazarus Endowed Fund for Scholarships; Brown Center Endowment; and generous annual and legacy gifts to create exceptional opportunities for artists, designers, and educators.