In Memory: Jo Ann Stabb, Professor Emerita and Namesake of Design Collection

Founding Member of Department of Design

Woman fitting dress forms with textiles in front of double mirror.
Alyssa Lichtenstein, a student in 2018, shows some of her textile designs, carrying on in the UC Davis tradition and teaching of Jo Ann Stabb, 80, a founder of the UC Davis Department of Design and a textiles scholar. Stabb died in February. Story below. (Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis)


Jo Ann Stabb, a founding member of the UC Davis Department of Design and a widely recognized scholar of textiles, died Feb. 13 in Walnut Creek, California. She was 80.

“Jo Ann Stabb essentially started the textile and fashion curriculum in the department,”  design professor Susan Taber Avila said in a 2017 interview. “She captured the zeitgeist of the wearable art movement and brought that creativity into her teaching. She understood and championed the value of studying actual textiles and artifacts.”

Stabb was a designer, author and lecturer focusing on the field of fashion and wearable art. She taught at UC Davis from 1968 to 2002 and continued collaborating with the Department of Design long after her retirement. The department’s textile collection was named in her honor in 2017. Stabb donated many items to the collection.

“Jo Ann was my teacher, mentor, friend and colleague,” said Avila (M.F.A., textile arts and costume design, ’96). “She was larger than life in her accomplishments yet humble and a bit of a goofball. She was devoted to UC Davis and a great connector — always forwarding items she felt were important for me or our students.”

Another of Stabb’s students, Adele Zhang (M.F.A., textile arts and costume design, ’99), is now the design collection curator and manager.

"I was so fortunate to meet Jo Ann as a student before her retirement,” Zhang said.  “Without Jo Ann’s belief in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career path. She taught me to be a thoughtful teacher and a caring individual."

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