Jayne van Alstyne
Retired head of the Department of Professional Design
Jayne van Alstyne joined Montana State University in 1949 to develop an interior and industrial design program and worked in this capacity until 1955. Subsequently, she became studio head of the appliance division for General Motors Frigidaire (1955-1969). She holds the patent for the first stackable washer/dryer (1962) and holds eight additional patents for GM. She later moved to the GM Automotive Division, working as one of the famed “Damsels of Design.” She was recently featured in the book Damsels of Design as one of the 20 women who paved the automobile industry. Her love of the mountains brought her back to MSU in 1972 to head the Department of Professional Design. During this time, she flew some of her former GM colleagues to Bozeman to give students the extraordinary opportunity to talk with them. One of her students, Barbara Khur, now an accomplished designer, said that her most influential teacher was van Alstyne who “combined the practical aspects of design with challenging ideas about design and art.” While at MSU, van Alstyne designed the Danforth Chapel, including the furnishings and stained glass window. She retired from MSU in 1985.
Jayne van Alstyne’s passion, ambition and quiet encouragement inspired countless MSU students to follow their dreams in the design industry.