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Program Director's Message

Ask our alumni what makes Clemson landscape architecture special and you’ll get an earful. Some will say it’s our award-winning facilities and off-campus programs. Others will say it’s our highly productive faculty and caring staff.  Those who are diehard Tiger fans (aren’t we all?) will rightfully note that just being a part of Clemson University is pretty special. However, for me, Clemson landscape architecture is special because of its roots.

Since 1987, Clemson landscape architecture has graduated over 400 students from all over the world. These students are now our alumni – the same ones who are so eager to tell you what makes Clemson special. But, our alumni are more than our biggest fans and sometime critics. They are landscape architects, architects, planners, mayors, board members, computer engineers, small business owners, and much more. More importantly, they serve as role models for our current students while making a tangible difference in their local communities. In fact, last year alone we had more than 30 alumni return to Lee Hall to provide studio reviews, presentations, and just reconnect. Moreover, when you go to a park, greenway, resort, playground, or countless other places in SC, chances are it was made great by a Clemson landscape architecture alumnus. So, what makes Clemson Landscape Architecture special? It’s our roots, our alumni.

Every morning I walk into Lee Hall eager to see who is in studio. I take a few minutes to walk through each space to say hi to our students and see how they’re progressing. It’s the highlight of my workday even though it’s a little disconcerting to see so many empty bags of fast food and coffee cups scattered around. Currently, we have almost 100 students studying landscape architecture in our two fully accredited programs including about 80 students in the BLA and 25 more MLA students. Despite their high sodium levels, our students have heart. Each of our students contributes to Clemson Landscape Architecture in ways that far exceed just taking classes and getting a degree. Our students, like our alumni, are active contributors to numerous communities around SC and beyond. In fact, in an average semester our students will engage in projects all around the state including recent projects in Georgetown, Seneca, Pendleton, Greenville, West Oak, Surfside Beach, Clemson, and Daufuskie Island. On each project, our students demonstrate their emergent understanding of landscape architecture while showing their passion for making a difference. As a result, our students represent the best of our program. You can tell by the care and effort they put into their projects and, equally importantly, the positive feedback we hear from the communities and people they meet and serve. So, what makes Clemson Landscape Architecture special? It’s our roots, our students.

Many of our alumni and students associate Clemson landscape architecture with our outstanding faculty and staff. Of course, program founder Don Collins remains at the top of this list. But, many other faculty members have helped our students and alumni throughout the years such as Umit, Dan, Francis, Georgia, Cecile, Lolly, Cari, David, Mary Beth, Martin, and many more. Our current faculty consists of folks who have also made significant differences in teaching and research. Our longest serving faculty member, Robert Hewitt, is approaching 15 years of service to our program. Robert, along with another long serving faculty member, Hala Nassar, recently received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation. Tom Schurch continues helping students bridge landscape architecture, planning, and resiliency. He is also finishing a book. Mary Padua has led the program into new territories while somehow finding the time to make progress on her own forthcoming book. Hyejung Chang brings fresh energy and perspective to our students and program.  Paul Russell continues to raise the expectations for student-community engagement, not only here in Clemson but nation-wide. Paul is also the new Director of Graduate Programs. While it is difficult to list every contributor to our program, it’s imperative to remember our caring staff including Reva, Patty, Amanda, Aaron, and Michelle. No matter how long or in what capacity each individual has served in our program and our students, we value the difference they have made. So, what makes Clemson Landscape Architecture special? It’s our roots, our faculty and staff.

Alumni, students, faculty, and staff represent our roots and make us special. But, our program is not done growing. In fact, our roots have extended into even more fertile ground. Clemson Landscape Architecture is a member of the University’s premier academic unit – the School of Architecture. Under the leadership of Kate Schwennsen, the School’s Director, and in collaboration with our colleagues in architecture, historic preservation, and urban resilient design, we are positioned to meet our mission more effectively, reach new heights, and of course spread the good news about landscape architecture. In fact, our new residency in the School of Architecture is more of a return to our roots than it is a new home. Again, many alumni and early faculty members will tell you that our program emerged from the Department of Architecture many years ago. So what makes Clemson Landscape Architecture special? It’s our roots, our shared missions, our relationships, our colleagues, our friends.

As you can see, Clemson landscape architecture is growing and making a difference around the State of South Carolina and beyond. We strive to improve the natural and built environment for the benefit of future generations. So, if you want to come to a place where you too can make a real difference, then we want to get to know you. If you’re one of our alumni or would like to become one then please give us a call or send us an email to connect (or reconnect). If you’d like to support our programs and students we would love the chance to speak with you about how you can get involved.

Here at Clemson landscape architecture, our roots run deep, our studio doors our always open, we know no strangers, and you are always welcome here. So please come see us and be a part of something special. Go Tigers!

 Matt

Meet Our Director

Matt Powers, Ph.D., ASLA

Matt is an associate professor in the Landscape Architecture program in the School of Architecture. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University and a Master of Landscape Architecture and Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech. Prior to entering academia he worked in landscape architecture and community design in West Virginia, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Dr. Powers teaches a range of studios and seminars focusing on environmental design and research at various scales. His primary research interests include cognitive-oriented approaches to design pedagogy and the relationship between environmental design and health disparities. Dr. Powers has extensive experience helping primary and secondary school students create learning landscapes on their campuses. Dr. Powers and his students have received state and national awards for outstanding research and innovative design.