DETROIT -- Imre Molnar, longtime academic chief at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, died Dec. 28 of a heart attack while bicycle riding in California, the school said.
Molnar, 61, was at CCS for 11 years, holding the positions of dean and then provost. CCS is a top design school and has as alumni some of the most important car designers, including Chrysler's Ralph Gilles and Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo.
Molnar was born in Hungary and grew up in Australia. He was design director for clothing maker Patagonia and worked as operations director for design consulting firm Hauser Inc. He also was a consultant for Ford, BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.
He moved to CCS in 2001 and was instrumental in the expansion of the transportation design program. On his watch, the school moved to the historic former General Motors design studios in Detroit, allowing aspiring designers to learn in the same spaces where Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell created some of the landmark vehicles of the 20th century.
Molnar also helped create the school's master of fine arts program. Previously, he was a faculty member at another leading vehicle-design school, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., where he earned a master's degree.
Early last year, Molnar compiled a list of his favorite auto show concept cars for Autoweek, a sibling publication of Automotive News. Among them were the Cadillac Sixteen from 2003 and a Corvette Stingray from 2010.
Molnar remained focused on developing the next generation of designers. "In order to design," he told Autoweek, "you've got to have a real passion and love for it."