Bret Smith was named the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and the Associate Director of the University College in August 2016. Professor Smith has served on the School of Industrial + Graphic Design faculty at Auburn University for more than 30 years where he was the chair of the highly regarded, nationally ranked Industrial Design program from 2008-13. He was the first recipient of the Bauhaus Endowed Chair in Industrial Design in 2009. Professor Smith holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial education and industrial technology, and graduate degrees in English, and Industrial Design from Purdue University. From 2013-2016 he served as the Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and International Programs for the College of Architecture Design and Construction.
Professor Smith has directed design and research projects for numerous clients including IBM, Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace, Dell Inc., 3-M, Tupperware Brands, Mead Imaging, and NASA. In 2012, the Industrial Designers Society of America honored him for extreme volunteerism for his work in founding the industrial design history website and for making extraordinary contributions to protecting and preserving the history of industrial design. During his more than 30 years at Auburn University he has worked on interdisciplinary projects with the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the Harrison School of Pharmacy, the College of Science and Mathematics, the Honors College, and the College of Liberal Arts. He has presented papers on the effectiveness and value of collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving in China, Italy, Spain and the United States.
Nicole Gaillard has served as the Academic Advisor for the Interdisciplinary Studies program since its inception in 2010. Nicole has been a part of the Auburn family for 24 years and holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She has advised students for over 15 years in Student Affairs, Hotel and Restaurant Management and in the Academic Counseling and Advising Center. Nicole was recently recognized as the 2014-2015 recipient of the Auburn University Outstanding Professional Advisor Award, as well as the NACADA Professional Advisor Certificate of Merit.
Nicole loves her job and feels she was meant to work with college students. When she isn’t at work she enjoys spending time with her husband, children and numerous pets.
Chris Qualls teaches Foundations of Interdisciplinary University Studies in the IDSC Program. He has been on the faculty at Auburn University for over a decade and has had the pleasure of teaching thousands of AU students in his Introduction to Theatre classes over the years. As Associate Professor in the AU Department of Theatre he teaches stage, film and voice acting. He received his MFA in Acting from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and his BA in Communication Studies / Film from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also taught at the ASF Academy and has worked as a voice-over actor for the past thirty years. His clients include the U.S. Army, Hardee’s Corporation, Cengage Learning and Caterpillar Tractor. His research/creative work focuses on the integration of classical and non-traditional approaches to the performance of Shakespeare, and the collection, adaptation, and performance of oral histories as they relate to social justice and human rights. His play, The Synaptic Gap, was created from over 50 hours of interviews on bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
The Interdisciplinary Studies office is located in Cater Hall. If you have questions, please call 334-844-5725.