Greetings from the Department Head
In 2008, I unlocked the door for the first time to my new office in Fine Arts Visual. A new adventure was beginning, and I knew inherently the challenge and potential of what lay ahead as the Great Recession was taking its toll on practitioners. That was then…
As I type this, the calm and verdant Cache Valley which inevitably follows Commencement has again returned, and with it the rhythms and treasures of summer in the Northern Wasatch. A promising Japanese-Korean maple cross (Acer pseudosieboldianum x palmatum ‘Hasselkus’) is awaiting planting at our home, aka The Deer Hollow Arboretum. My feet and old Land Cruiser have recently returned from exploring the remote Maze District of Canyonlands (including Happy Canyon). And a host of delayed writings and readings (e.g., Cadillac Desert) now are receiving attention. Each is a joy.
Yet autumn is not far off. With it brings what I believe can rightfully be termed a new era for LAEP. That may sound trite, but there’s a basis to this claim. Everywhere are changes. Three bright, energetic new faculty will have settled into their offices. Carlos Licon has returned from sabbatical, now an Associate Professor. PhD students have joined the Graduate Studio, our newest degree now underway. And we recently completed the first LAEP Strategic Plan in memory, culminating a year-long, self-reflection and visioning process. Encapsulating key program emphases the faculty defined, the Plan offers a compass bearing and a playbook for the coming years.
Job placement by LAEP students has also entered a new era. In 2018, our first Careers Coordinator was hired. In fact, Tanya Rice (MLA ’17) had already been transforming how students secure internships. Now she is wearing two hats, both of which focus upon placing students into high quality professional experiences, whether during their degrees or after graduation. The fruit of her efforts, along with superb mentoring by Todd Johnson, Dave Evans and others, can be seen in recent hiring of LAEP students by PlaceWorks, EDSA, Civitas, Pacheco-Koch, Pickard Chilton Architects, Sasaki, FFKR Architects, Design Workshop, the BLM and USFS, and many others.
An era of a different sort also came to a close in 2018. That change has given me pause as LAEP charts its future. Like others who moved to Logan to start a new career chapter, I could not have guessed what the future held. Similarly, when Professors Laval Morris and Dick Toth first drove over Sardine neither might have guessed that they would serve as department head for 22 and 20 years, respectively. Dick’s passing occurred as my tenure as LAEP head reached 10 years. To have had only those two gentlemen serve in this position for longer periods of time is humbling. Their decades in leadership have challenged me to ask how we honor, yet modernize, LAEP’s legacy in planning and design. The long shadow cast by their impacts as department heads are never far away, inspiring me each day.
If your eyes are still on this page, allow me to close with a challenge. As you’ll remember, becoming a “true Aggie” takes only a moment, and requires giving only a kiss. But being a “true Aggie alum” means giving something more lasting to a fellow Aggie. Today’s Aggies need you. And so do we. Will you join us in helping prepare them for practice?
Sean Michael, LAEP Department Head