President's Message 2015

The MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board (LAAAB) has had a great year!

LAAAB President Deb Cooper.
Current LAAAB President Deb Cooper.

The MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board (LAAAB) has had a great year! Since our last Newsletter, we have continued to make advances in connecting with our MSU LA alumni, engaging with the BLA and MED Students, and working in tandem with faculty and staff to help them make this The Best of the Best Landscape Architecture program.

As you undoubtedly have seen on national advertising, MSU has a slogan: WHO WILL? SPARTANS WILL! Who can we depend on to tackle the big problems of our time? Push the boundaries of discovery and forge partnerships that lead to better answers? Who will work for the common good with uncommon will? SPARTANS WILL!

Does this strike a chord with you as a Landscape Architect? I can’t find better words to describe the role we play every day as Landscape Architects working with communities, corporations, park systems, educational institutions, and many others in creating better places for humanity. It is hard work and we encounter many road blocks, be it old standards, politics, funding, or any number of other challenges.

But Landscape Architects are trained to assess those challenges and find solutions to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of making a difference. So who will? SPARTAN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS WILL!

As Board members, we are challenging ourselves to make the LA program within the School of Planning Design and Construction not just ordinary, but extraordinary. We are focusing our efforts on providing our students with experiences that go beyond those offered at other schools around the world. We see the Alumni as a significant partner in accomplishing this goal, and we encourage all of you to stay (or get) connected and to participate in any way that you are comfortable. There are many opportunities to make a difference in our Landscape Architecture students’ experience!

Here are some of our accomplishments to date. If you see something that interests you, please contact any of the board members listed below.

One of the first programs we initiated after forming our board in 2011 was a Distinguished Speaker Series. The series fulfills two goals: first, to provide the students the opportunity to hear first hand from the leaders in our profession; and second, to engage fellow alumni with our students.

Twice a year, we arrange for national and international speakers to engage our students and alumni in provocative discussion. Many of our speakers have eagerly participated with the students the following day in project critiques, design charrettes, and other informal sessions. To date, we have hosted seven distinguished speakers, with some events expanding to several days of conference/symposium relevant to global issues. This past fall we combined our speaker with the international World Scientific and Engineering Academy and Society conference hosted on MSU’s campus.

The second initiative was to produce an annual newsletter for our alumni to showcase our students, the program, and alumni achievements. What better way to get the word out and inspire others to get involved than to reconnect? It has been a bigger challenge than originally anticipated to find all of you. As many of us graduated well before the digital age, we found many of the addresses from class lists were incorrect, and we are currently working to expand and update that data base.

This is our fourth newsletter, and the mailing list/email list is growing as we rediscover our alumni across the globe. If you know of alumni who did not receive this newsletter, first pass it on and second ask them to get us their current information. We hope to ultimately transmit digitally as a commitment to green initiatives, but at this time many of our older alumni do not have email addresses.

A third initiative is to engage with the LA Club to offer as much support as possible in training our future leaders of Landscape Architecture firms and academic programs. We meet with the incoming officers before the start of fall semester to foster an easy relationship between students and the board.

At our biannual meetings, we invite the LA Club to speak with us and encourage discussion about events they have planned, how we can assist, and how we might help them fund some of their efforts. Current LA Club President Katie Ling has begun a calendar that we can all access so we can coordinate activities with class deadlines and other events.

Some other initiatives we have been working on in tandem with faculty and staff include: Vertical studios (projects involving students at all levels), induction of the third year students by the fourth year students, an alumni survey (which you may have received or may be receiving soon), a mentoring and internship program, obtaining continuing education credits for our practicing alumni who participate in the speakers series, and working with MSU Development to gain an understanding of how we can best participate in securing funds to make the MSU Landscape Architecture program the VERY BEST OF THE BEST, and sustaining landscape architecture forever at MSU.

I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter, and if you see something you would like to get involved in or help fund, please don’t hesitate to reach out. To a year filled with opportunities! Enjoy! GO GREEN!

Deborah (McCue) Cooper, Class of 1976.
President, MSU LAAAB.
Principal, Beckett & Raeder, Inc.

2015 LAAAB Board

Executive Committee

  • Deborah Cooper, President.
  • Patrick O’Leary, Vice President.
  • Stephen Troost, Secretary.
  • Pamela Blough, Treasurer.
  • Robert Ford, Past President.

Board Members

  • Kent Anderson.
  • John Campbell.
  • Robert Chipman.
  • Michael Dul.
  • Donald Fox.
  • Michael Rein.
  • Scott Reinholt.
  • Monica Schwanitz.
  • Kenneth Weikal.
  • David Yocca.

Teaching Faculty

  • Jon Burley.
  • Pat Crawford.
  • Trisha Machemer.
  • Paul Nieratko.
  • Karen Russcher.

Teaching Instructors

  • Pamela Blough.
  • Vanessa Warren.

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