“Really, I just feel like I have been doing my job,” said Hannel, who will be honored tonight in Philadelphia during Apparel’s annual meeting.
Hannel, who has been at URI since 2000, was nominated for the honor by fellow textiles professor Linda Welters. Several students in the program wrote letters in support of the nomination. While Hannel is not one to boast about her own work, her colleagues and students did so for her.
It’s that type of support that Hannel has received from the likes of Welters, Margaret Ordonez, Martin Bide and other colleagues at URI that have helped her find success at the University. At the urging of her fellow staff members, Hannel applied for – and earned – a pair of grants from the Champlin Foundations that has enabled her to oversee major upgrades to the department’s apparel lab.
In 2006, Hannel received a $130,000 grant from Champlin for an industry standard computer-aided design system for apparel design and manufacture. Last year, she secured an $82,000 grant to purchase an inkjet fabric printing system.
“Rhode Island is unusual because we have the support of an organization like the Champlin Foundations,” Hannel said. “Our students go on to have amazing careers, and a lot of that is due to the equipment and technology they are able to work with in our classrooms.”
The department also received $1 million worth of software from Lectra, a worldwide textiles industry leader in integrated technology solutions.
“Students here work with the programs and equipment that are being used in the fashion industry,” Hannel said. “We have seen the quality of student designs improve as a result. Design is not about how well you can draw. It’s about your taste level. With the technology and equipment here, students are able to realize their designs and ideas, regardless of their artistic ability.”
Hannel’s own career in fashion design came after she had gone to Ohio State University to study zoology. Realizing her passion for making her own clothes, as well as an aptitude for history, she switched her academic focus.
“When I switched to art, it was like I was born again,” said Hannel, who studied fashion design and taught at The Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Philadelphia University) and the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio.
That passion eventually led her to URI, where Hannel is enhancing the learning experience of the students in the textiles program.
Susan Hannel works with senior Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design
major Jessica Durand on a clothing design. Hannel has been named Apparel
magazine’s 2011 All Star Educator of the Year.
URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.