University of Oregon

Department of Landscape Architecture

Creativity, community, inspiration connect graduates, alumni, faculty at commencement June 19

Published on: 
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Amanda Kibbel planned to study engineering at Oregon State University or the University of Washington until, on a whim, she toured the University of Oregon.

“When I visited the Product Design Department at UO and saw what the students were creating and how it was a great blend of math, art, and sustainable design,” she said, “I knew instantly that that was what I wanted to study.” 

graduates at commencement
Commencement for the Class of 2017 School of Architecture and Allied Arts’ graduates begins at 4 p.m. Monday, June 19, on the Knight Library South Lawn. A reception precedes in Lawrence Hall from 1-3 p.m. Photo by Jack Liu.

Next week, Kibbel, the School of Architecture and Allied Arts’ Class of 2017 student commencement speaker, will graduate with a bachelor of science in product design. She’ll leave Eugene with a cornucopia of accomplishments, from exhibiting reimagined residence hall furniture at an international furniture expo in New York and learning to build chairs in Copenhagen, to long talks about life over tea with her favorite professor, Jessica Swanson, who, Kibbel says, “encouraged me to question the world and learn because I am passionate about something rather than trying to achieve a certain grade or expected outcome.”

Other key lessons from her time at UO, Kibbel said, are “learning that you cannot be everything for everyone and that learning to rest or to rely on friends for support is actually a sign of strength and not weakness. These past four years have not only been meant to build professional skills but also to create a community of people who know and support you.”

That community includes alumni, two of whom — architects William Leddy and Marsha Maytum — will be recognized with the school’s highest honor, the Ellis F. Lawrence Medal, during commencement. The commencement ceremony, with remarks by Dean Christoph Lindner, will begin at 4 p.m. Monday, June 19, on the South Lawn of Knight Library.  

Lindner, who moved to Eugene from the Netherlands in 2016 to lead the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (A&AA), not only served as dean during his first year here but also taught a class (elevated parks and global cities). That interaction, he said, helped reveal his biggest takeaway from the year.

“People in A&AA are really, really ambitious — faculty and students — and the ambition is not about personal advancement or status,” Lindner said. “The ambition is connected to having an impact in the world, to changing things, to improving things, whether that’s related to community at a local level or the power of design to transform a space, or whether it’s the ways in which an aesthetic object can shock and challenge the way you think.”

The way A&AA integrates the academic and “real” worlds is a boon for graduating students, he observed.

“A&AA is all about living, studying, thinking, and acting in the real world. Our students, when they graduate, don’t have to make a transition from a protected, private bubble into the real world,” he said. “They’ve already been working and thinking and addressing real-world problems. So it’s about continuing what they’ve done, not transitioning into something [completely different].”

Lawrence Medalists Leddy and Maytum are prime examples of A&AA graduates who transitioned smoothly from academia to professional practice. The duo — principals of the San Francisco firm Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects — were named Lawrence Medal winners “in recognition of [their] shared commitment to design excellence and leadership and [their] masterful work that illuminates the power of design and the ethics of environmental responsibility.”

Prior to commencement, a reception will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Lawrence Hall Courtyard outside Hayden Gallery (LA 120). Refreshments and light snacks will be available. Students are encouraged to bring family and friends to engage and mingle with faculty and fellow students.

A total of 653 students will graduate from A&AA this year, 573 from the Eugene campus and 80 from the UO in Portland.