Gregory Thomas

Professor of Design
Director, Center for Design Research
School of Architecture & Design
Primary office:


Reared in Wichita, Greg Thomas began his design education at the Kansas City Art Institute, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He earned Master of Fine Arts degrees from both the California Institute of the Arts and Yale University. He has been employed by IBM, CBS, the offices of Charles & Ray Eames and Saul Bass.

For over 25 years, Thomas was the owner and founding principal of Gregory Thomas Associates (GTA), a Los Angeles design firm specializing in brand strategy and corporate communications. This small-but-internationally-known firm has done branding programs for the countries of Australia, New Zealand and Austria as well as a number of US and international corporations. His work has received numerous national and international awards and has been featured in a number of international publications.

In addition to graphic design, he is also the author of his own book on branding, and has written a number of articles on the subject for design publications as well as the journal of the University and College Designer Association (of which he was a board member). His recent work highlights sustainable building technology as well as “connected” vehicles.

He has been a keynote speaker at several national conferences and delivered the keynote address at the 2011 Connected World Conference (Chicago). Thomas will also be delivering a speech entitled  “Delivering Mobile Health in Rural Environments” at the 2013 mHealth Summit Washington D.C., and will also serve as a juror for the 2013 Connected World “Best Devices of 2013” this Fall. He has given numerous speeches on graphics, design and technology over the years.

Thomas comes to KU from Los Angeles where – in addition to running GTA – he was formally the acting chair of graphics at Art Center College of Design/Pasadena and taught graduate students at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California (USC). Also at USC, he served as an adjunct professor at the USC School of Fine Arts.

Thomas teaches Special Topics, which are industry-sponsored projects for company clients such as Ford, Bayer Healthcare, Sprint and more. He currently serves as the director of the Center for Design Research (CDR), a multidisciplinary research center devoted to the design and development of new products and services and reports directly to the Dean, School of Architecture, Design & Planning at the University of Kansas. He served as Chair of the Design Department from 2004-2009.

He is a member and/or honored as a University of Kansas-Senior Administrative Fellow, Phi Beta Delta-Alpha Pi Chapter Honor Society for Scholars, Advisory Board University of Kansas Hospital Cancer Center, University KU Center for Research, Board of Trustees Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Board, IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America), SEGD (Society for Environmental Graphic Design), University & College Designers Association American, Nikon Professional Services, Design Management Institute (DMI), and the Economic Development Committee of Lawrence.

Professor Thomas’ research is focused on: health & wellness initiatives, icon/symbol design and history, vehicular/transportation safety, SMART grid building technology (V2G), sustainable building, connected vehicles, wayfinding/signage, distractive driving mitigation, adaptive information displays (automotive) and mHealth (M2M).

In 2012, he was the co-recipient of the first “Research Impact Award” (2012) by the School of Architecture, Design & Planning.

In 2015 he was selected to be the first KU IT Faculty Fellow. The KUIT Faculty Fellow was created by Information Technology to better understand faculty needs and provide guidance on innovative solutions to support the academic and research goals of all KU faculty and students. This position also will serve as an active member on both the IT Senior Leadership Team and IT Faculty Consultation Group.

Professor Thomas has also given lectures on technology and design to the Mayo Clinic, US House of Representatives, Johns Hopkins University and HRSA FedTel WorkGroup on Telehealth. He is currently a guest blogger for the Center for Innovation, Mayo Clinic.

Featured Articles

In top 5 programs nationwide for its emphasis on construction materials and methods —DesignIntelligence magazine
Studio 804 students design and construct a technically sophisticated, sustainable building each year
Four buildings designed and constructed by Studio 804 architecture students have achieved Platinum LEED ratings
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
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