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Endowments at UVA

Harry W. Porter, Jr., Visiting Professorship


The Harry W. Porter, Jr., Visiting Professorship was created with a gift from an anonymous donor and additional support from more than 200 alumni and friends of the School of Architecture. The professorship honors Mr. Porter as an outstanding leader and teacher. Joining the faculty in 1969, he established the landscape architecture degree program and became the School of Architecture's eighth dean. He was later appointed the first Architect for the University. In recognition of Mr. Porter's leadership throughout the school, the professorship for visiting scholars will rotate annually among the programs in architecture, landscape architecture, architectural history, and urban and environmental planning.

The School of Architecture welcomed Michael Van Valkenburgh as the 2015-16 Harry W. Porter, Jr., Visiting Professor. Along with former Dean Elizabeth K. Meyer, Mr. Van Valkenburgh presented the lecture, “Excavating Creativity: A Conversation Between Michael Van Valkenburg and Beth Meyer,” on November 12, 2015.

Michael Van Valkenburgh is the President and CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., an architecture firm inspired by the power of landscape architecture to deliver beauty in its many forms: rational, lyrical, and exuberant. Mr. Van Valkenburgh graduated from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture with a Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture. He went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the four decades since, he has crafted gardens and parks—invitations to become engulfed in earth and shadow, stone and light, plants and moisture. Mr. Van Valkenburgh believes in the instinctive power of the imagination and the immersive power of the landscape. Through years of building gardens and parks as well as delivering talks like “Excavating Creativity,” he inspired many students to find paths into their own and others’ visions. Currently the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Mr. Van Valkenburgh teaches landscape design as well as the use of plants as design material, synthesizing a broad range of influences into a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. He is a registered landscape architect in more than 25 states and in Canada, and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

History of Past Recipients and Projects