2018 Landscape Architecture program update

My second program update as program director of the Landscape Architecture program at Michigan State University is full of our proud success.

Image of associate professor Jun-Hyun Kim.
Associate Professor Jun-Hyun Kim, landscape architecture program director.

My second program update as program director of the Landscape Architecture program at Michigan State University is full of our proud success.

In many respects, 2018 was another year of significant milestones for our program where we were able to celebrate our strong students, faculty and alumni accomplishments.

The landscape architecture students, who represent the program’s diversity well (nearly a 50:50 gender balance and 26% international representation), remain strong and make many accomplishments, including receiving scholarships, awards and community engagement projects. The landscape architecture graduates in the last academic year were highly competitive in the job market.

In July, our program successfully renewed a full six-year accreditation status approved by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. Our faculty and students worked hard to prepare the self-evaluation report and assist in the accreditation review team’s site visit.

On behalf of our program, I appreciate the Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board and our alumni who played a pivotal role during our accreditation review by participating in several meetings with the accreditation board review team and sharing honest opinions about the status of our program.

Future curriculum and events will reflect your valuable comments. Our next accreditation review will take place in the spring of 2024.

According to the 2018-2019 Annual DesignIntellegence Survey based on more than 5,000 landscape architects, program chairs/directors, deans and students, our Landscape Architecture program was ranked 10th in the U.S. Our program ranking improved by four notches (moving from 14th to 10th) since last year. 

This is the first time our program has been in the top 10 landscape architecture programs in the U.S. since 2005. Without our Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board members and our alumni’s efforts, we would not be able to celebrate this significant milestone today. Thank you for your participation and support for our program during the survey period.

While we are celebrating our great accomplishments, I would like to continue the discussion with our alumni, students and faculty regarding the various strategies to maintain our program standing and ensure success in our future board meetings and personal conversations.

Bob Chipman, Scott Reinholt, Abigail Reimel and Patricia Chipman at the 120th LAnniversary.As the nation’s oldest undergraduate program, we celebrated our 120th anniversary this September. Our anniversary event, termed “LAnniversary,” was a huge success with more than 120 guests in attendance, including program alumni, students, former and current faculty, as well as friends and donors.

Barbara Deutsch, CEO of the Landscape Architecture Foundation, inspired us with her keynote speech, “The New Landscape Declaration: Our 21st Century Call to Action.” 

Abigail Reimel moderates panel discussion at the LAnniversary.This was followed by an Open Dialogue Session entitled “Legacy and Future of MSU LA Program” moderated by our senior student and Landscape Architecture Foundation Olmsted Scholar, Abigail Reimel.

There were six panelists: Barbara Deutsch (CEO of the Landscape Architecture Foundation), Professor – Emeritus Joanne Westphal (retired landscape architecture faculty member), Bill Johnson (distinguished alumni and founder of JJR), Scott Reinholt (Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board president director of sales at Landscape Forms, Inc.), Deb Guenther (board member and partner at Mithun), and Stephanie Onwenu (president of the MSU Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, also known as the ASLA Club).

As a surprise event during the “LAnniversary,” we recognized some of our alumni, friends and donors who offer their tireless support and service to our program with a Landscape Architecture program pin.

The following day, Deutsch and Megan Barnes (Landscape Architecture Foundation program manager) offered a Landscape Performance Workshop. More than 50 attendees, including students, professionals and faculty, learned how to measure the environmental, social and economic benefits of sustainable landscapes. 

The Landscape Architecture Career Fair, hosted in the Spring of 2018, was successfully organized by our ASLA Club. Twenty-three (23) firms, including one from Houston, TX, attended our fair with more than 40 students from various majors attending, including landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, horticulture, and crop and soil science participating.

The ASLA Club also organized several workshops led by professionals and the 2018 PARK(ing) Day with the theme of "Back in Time: Celebrating 120 Years of Landscape Architecture."

Paul Nieratko coordinated and led the Landscape Architecture Golf Outing to fund student scholarships.

Professors Paul Nieratko and Karen Russcher took the lead of our study abroad program, taking nine landscape architecture students to Europe (U.K., France, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands). Each student received a study abroad scholarship from the John and Patricia Chipman Endowment.

Our students and faculty continue to expand our impact on scholarship and the community by engaging in several outreach projects and receiving notable awards and scholarships. Our program dominated the last Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects Meeting in Kalamazoo, MI, with nearly 20 students and faculty in attendance along with a number of our alumni.

Four program-wide award recipients are listed below:

  • Merit Award: “Greening the Medical Mile” by Arianna Zannetti (Faculty advisor: Associate Professor Jun-Hyun Kim).
  • Merit Award: “Zug Island: Detroit’s Postindustrial Gateway” by Curtis Schaldach (Faculty advisor: Associate Professor Jun-Hyun Kim).
  • Merit Award: “A Cluster Analysis Comparison of Selected Classical Chinese Garden, Modern Chinese Gardens and Traditional Japanese Gardens” by Dexin Chen (Faculty advisors: Associate Professors Jon Burley and Jun-Hyun Kim)
  • Research Award: “Landscape Based Planning and Design Research: 2015-2018” led by Associate Professor Jon Burley with several co-authors from other universities.

Students receive Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects awards.I hope this year’s accomplishments in the Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects Awards will continue to encourage our students and faculty to increase the volume of award entry submissions to diverse design competitions, at a state, national and international level.

Landscape architecture faculty and students also represented our program in several regional, national and international meetings.

ASLA Meeting, MSU attendees.With the Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Boards’ support (via student enrichment funds), 17 students received an LAAAB/Rein travel scholarship to attend the MiASLA Annual Meeting held in Kalamazoo, and seven students attended the National Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia, PA, with an LAAAB/Bach Travel Scholarship.

ASLA Meeting, MSU tailgate.Three students attended the 2018 LABash Meeting held at Pennsylvania State University in April 2018.

Vanessa Warren, our instructor and alumna, has successfully finished her term as the vice president of membership within the national American Society of Landscape Architects. Four Landscape Architecture faculty, several visiting scholars and Environmental Design concentration doctoral students attended the 2018 CELA (Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture) Annual Conference held at Virginia Tech University in March 2018.

Finally, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture elected me to a two-year term as secretary and vice president for communications, outreach and publications.

Abigail Reimel, LA senior, has been named as the 2018 University Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation. She was named chair of the National Student Advisory Committee and National Student Representative to the ASLA Board of Trustees.

Stephanie Onwenu, landscape architecture senior and ASLA Club president won the City of Detroit’s Give a Park, Get a Park Design Competition, as well as the inaugural SmithGroup Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship in Landscape Architecture.

With other School of Planning, Design and Construction students, Amanda Wakefield, landscape architecture junior, participated in the National Association of Home Builders Residential Construction Management Competition, led by Prof. George Berghorn, assistant professor in the Construction Management in SPDC, and the team won the fifth place.

Chanelle Russ, landscape architecture junior, was awarded the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association Scholarship.

Four landscape architecture students received American Society of Landscape Architects Student Awards: Honor Awards (Rachel Wilke and Sara Vandyke) and Merit Awards (Brandon Chaney and Jiabin Zhang).

Sigma Lambda Alpha inductees.In addition, Sigma Lambda Alpha Honor Society inducted five students: Abigail Reimel, Rachel Walsh, Rachel Wilke, Sara Vandyke and Jiabin Zhang.

Walt Cudnohufsky (Class of ’62) was inducted into the expanding group of MSU Landscape Architecture Distinguished Alumni.

Moreover, with the Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board’s support, the MSU Landscape Architecture mentoring program was officially launched in October.

I am pleased to share the great news that two new endowments have been established: The Jack Anderson Enrichment Endowment and Professor – Emeritus Joanne Westphal’s University Archives Landscape Architecture Endowment.

In addition, the advisory board has approved support of our student enrichment activities with a $5,000 enrichment fund this academic year.

I truly appreciate our alumni’s support of our endowments and gifts supporting our student scholarship and enrichment funds. For the academic year of 2018-2019, a total amount of $173,627 in landscape architecture scholarships were awarded to 32 students. I am very proud to introduce our long list of the scholarship recipients below:

  • Hamilton Anderson Scholarship: Mai Xiong.
  • June Knostman Scholarship: Paige O’keefe.
  • Tomas K. and Sheila T. Moore Scholarship: Abigail Reimel and Amanda Wakefield.
  • Kenneth and Shirley Polakowski Scholarship: Stephanie Onwenu.
  • LAAAB Golf Outing Scholarship: Stephanie Onwenu, Vincy Tam and Maggie Wellman.
  • MiASLA Scholarship: Mitchel Corey and Abigail Reimel.
  • LA Endowment Scholarship: Rayshaun Landrum.
  • John Campbell Scholarship: Stephanie Onwenu, Yige Qu, Pegah Sirati, Vincy Tam and XiaoYi Wang.
  • William C. and Kathryn Burgess Stenquist Scholarship (1st year): Naomi Bailey and Valerie Latham.
  • William C. and Kathryn Burgess Stenquist Scholarship (2nd year): Ted Cook, Mitchell Corey, Bridget Gumminik, Mallory Koning, Carlos Medrano and Brooke Shvela.
  • William C. and Kathryn Burgess Stenquist Scholarship (3rd year): Jonah Hayes, Jiajun Ni, Paige O’keefe, Jeremy Reece, Mai Xiong and Yong Yang.
  • William C. and Kathryn Burgess Stenquist Scholarship (4th year): Matthew Diekman, Alex Huizen, Amanda Wakefield, Maggie Wellman, Shu Yong, Yongyi Zhang and Zhixiang Zhang.
  • William C. and Kathryn Burgess Stenquist Scholarship (5th year): Harrison Boruszewski, Brandon Chaney, Abigail Reimel, Stephanie Onwenu, Yige Qu, Vincy Tam, Rachel Walsh, XiaoYi Wang, Rachel Wilke and Jiabin Zhang.

Students receive a Michigan American Society of Landscape Architects scholarship check. We deeply appreciate our alumni, friends and donors’ strong and generous support to help our students’ endeavors to become professional landscape architects who will be leading our discipline in the near future.

With strong support and new leadership from our school director, Ming-Han Li who came on board last January, it is a very exciting time for us in many ways. My program updates could highlight only a fraction of our accomplishments among all of our talented students and faculty.

I always sincerely appreciate your support and dedication to our program. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime, if you have any suggestions and/or opportunities for our students and program.

Also, please follow us with our official Facebook page (@MSULandscapeArch) to receive our latest news and updates, and notice of events and achievements. I am looking forward to working with you to continue to make us all proud to be a MSU Landscape Architecture Spartan. Go Green!


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