Director's Message Spring 2013

The last year has been an exciting and fulfilling year for our Landscape Architecture program. I am particularly happy about the energy and excitement created by the newly formed Landscape Architecture Alumni Advisory Board.

Photo of Scott Witter.
Scott Witter, director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction.

The last year has been an exciting and fulfilling year for our Landscape Architecture program. I am particularly happy about the energy and excitement created by the newly formed Landscape Architecture Alumni Advisory Board (LAAAB). They have jumped in and are helping push a number of initiatives that will improve our LA program.

Our students have been happy to have the opportunity to get to know very successful professionals in the field and to have many of the board participate in class lectures and projects. During 2012, the LA program was once again accredited for six more years. The review committee was very complementary regarding the quality of our faculty, their research and teaching, the students and our facilities.

As in an all accreditation reviews, we have some things to work on. We believe that we will have all issues resolved by the middle of spring semester 2013. Each of the four accredited programs in the School will update their self-studies each semester from now on, making sure that we have all of the support materials in our files and in storage.


We are combining our undergraduate and graduate curriculum committees to create a new committee with a representative from each program that will be responsible for all curriculum and accreditation issues. They will meet with their program faculty at least once a month to make sure that everyone is participating and informed about these critical parts of our work.

Our associate director will devote 20% of their time to working with each program (80% in total) to make sure that this work is being done. I will meet with each program at the beginning of each semester to review where we are and to make sure that each program has the resources that they
need to excel.


Our $2.3 million dollar Stenquist endowment was increased by $250,000 when her estate was closed earlier this year. We have also recently received an additional $500,000 pledge from Patti Chipman to expand the John and Patti Chipman $2 million pledge to support LA study abroad programs. The LA will present over $200,000 in scholarships to its students during this next year. This is an amazing opportunity for us to recruit and retain the best and brightest LA students in the nation. We are working hard to significantly increase our endowment base to allow us to continually focus on making it the premier LA program in the nation.

SPDC Branding

The SPDC will hire a firm to develop a unique brand for our school and programs that will help us attract new students, market our research and outreach work, and better present the importance of who we are, and what we do. This will include the creation of a new web site and materials to share with students, alumni and persons interested in our work.

This will be the first year since 2008 that each school and department will be able to submit position requests. We have asked for two LA positions: a specialist and a tenure track faculty. We will be writing the job descriptions in January.


The first Built Environment Showcase – Today and Tomorrow (BESTT), was hosted by the School of Planning, Design and Construction on October 25, 2012. It featured the industries and companies that make up the Built Environment sector and their impact on Michigan’s economic development. It brought key leaders from the industry, state government, state agencies and MSU’s faculty together to initiate new public/private partnerships that will vision and begin implementing a plan utilizing the talent and capacity of the Built Environment to jump start Michigan’s growth and prosperity.

The goals and objectives of BESTT are to:

  1. Bring together the Built Environment stakeholders to showcase the impact of the Built Environment sector on the economy and the future of the State of Michigan and to increase awareness and knowledge of the varied stakeholder’s diverse roles.
  2. Propose a new public/private partnership that will provide key information to all stakeholders- industry, government, and university, and to facilitate interaction between stakeholders.
  3. Approach information/outreach needs, research and the creation of new employees in a comprehensive partnership focused on win-win scenarios.

The Built Environment

The Built Environment provides the setting for human activity at all scales of development, including buildings, parks, green space, neighborhoods, cities and the supporting infrastructure. In Michigan, the Built Environment Sector includes real estate, construction, manufacturing of building supplies, redevelopment, maintenance and energy production and consumption. In 2010 the impact of the Built Environmental Sector on the State of Michigan provided over 370,000 jobs in over 60,000 firms and provide over $103 billion in direct revenues.

The Built Environment sector’s stakeholders have not come together in the past to create an overall voice for the entire industry, but instead have come together as professions separate from one another. Our goal is to have a common understanding and voice regarding this critically important sector to
Michigan’s and the nation’s economy and to find new joint opportunities. We are planning new events for 2013.

Thank you to all of our alumni for your help, time and financial support!

Did you find this article useful?

Other Articles from this Publication