Skip to main content

A Legacy of Dedication

Gene and supporters_800x450
Gene and supporters_800x450
L to R: George Stanziale, Paul Morris, Daniel Howe, Robby Layton, Chuck Flink, Gene Bressler, and Mark Johnson.

Building valuable and lasting funding resources to support outstanding faculty is a significant priority of the College of Design. A faculty endowment is one way to encourage excellent scholarship and attract and retain top faculty candidates, an increasing concern for the continued success of academic programs. Endowments provide additional funds for research projects and course development and allow academic leaders to expand their scholarship and enrich their teaching.

Recently, the first funded College of Design faculty award endowment was announced and was received with much praise and admiration. The Gene Bressler Landscape Architecture Faculty Award Endowment was made possible through generous gifts from colleagues, former students, professionals, and friends of Professor of Landscape Architecture Gene Bressler, FASLA. A portion of the annual earnings from this endowment will provide funds to ensure extraordinary research, teaching and outreach, opportunities for travel, and academic enrichment for faculty. Endowments like this one are more important than ever with the decline in state and federal academic funding.

Bressler has been an influential mentor in higher education since 1971, when he began teaching landscape architecture (LAR) at the University of Oregon, Eugene. From 1997 to 2006, Bressler served as Chair of the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Colorado, Denver, until his appointment to NC State’s College of Design as Department Head of Landscape Architecture. In 2006, Bressler was nationally recognized as Outstanding Administrator of the Year by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture for his leadership and contributions to teaching, and in 2007, he was elevated to Fellow by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Bressler also sits on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The landscape architectural community and the College of Design appreciate Bressler’s accomplishments and passion for the practice and look forward to his continued service as he steps down as the department head of the program in May 2018.

Robby Layton and Gene_web
Robby Layton with Gene Bressler at commencement when Layton received his PhD degree.

The idea of an endowment to honor Bressler started with Teaching Assistant Professor Robby Layton, PhD, FASLA, PLA, CPRP. Layton, who worked as Bressler’s teaching assistant while attending the University of Colorado, says that Bressler helped him by offering advice on what courses he needed to take to complete his MLA while also running a thriving landscape architect practice. Bressler encouraged Layton to pursue his PhD at NC State, and they continue to be friends and colleagues.

Layton wanted to recognize Bressler and realized that alone he could not make the impact he wanted. It was suggested that he head a committee to engage others who also valued Bressler’s contributions. Working with a committee, it didn’t take long to secure the initial $100,000 funding goal.

Chuck Flink, FASLA, Executive in Residence, Professor of the Practice, and President of Greenways Inc., and his wife, Marjorie, are philanthropic supporters of the College and active members of many influential boards and committees. Flink says it was an easy decision to contribute to the endowment, “Gene possesses so many admirable qualities, it is difficult to cite them all. As a practitioner, what I admire most is how he has reached out to alumni and other professionals and invited us to re-engage with the program. This has enriched the profession of LAR as well as the stature of the department. Most importantly, Gene has become a very good friend, mentor, and colleague. My wife, Marjorie, and I are so honored to have the opportunity to join with others to recognize Gene for all that he has accomplished during his tenure at NC State.”

Layton agrees that Bressler has had a significant impact on the LAR program. “Gene has made the LAR program what it is,” emphasizes Layton. Layton says that the LAR program has become “much more respected in the profession” because of Bressler and that one of the major successes of the program is the connections Bressler makes between students and the professional community.

Gene with Students_web

“My personal assessment is that Gene’s dedication is very truly and sincerely that everyone succeed—he wants the students to succeed and his faculty to succeed. His whole approach to leadership is to make certain everyone else is successful,” Layton adds.

Mark Johnson, FASLA, owner of Civitas Inc., has known Bressler for more than 25 years and was quick to support the endowment for many reasons. “I have not met another person whose calm, quiet leadership, deep knowledge of the profession in all its forms, and inspirational mind has caused so many people to reach or exceed their own potential,” says Johnson.

Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Kofi Boone, ASLA, also speaks highly of Bressler. “From the first day I met Gene Bressler, his only mission has been getting the Department of Landscape Architecture ‘from good to great.’ Gene has worked tirelessly to nurture faculty and students, build relationships with alumni and practitioners, and champion the value of landscape wherever he goes. He walks the walk. Gene has made an indelible impact on the teaching, research, and practice of landscape architecture in the state, region, and nation,” says Boone.

Additional supporters to the endowment include Paul Morris, FASLA, former President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., and active Leaders Council member; Daniel A. Howe, FASLA, AICP [MLA ’85], Principal of Perry Street Studio LLC, and Assistant Professor of the Practice; George Stanziale, PLA, ASLA, ULI, President and Director of Design of Stewart, and President-Elect of the Designlife Board of Directors; and Stewart, Inc., a NC-based engineering and planning firm.

Layton is pleased with the support the endowment has received. “I wanted to give what I could and then hoped it would grow and this is exactly what happened,” says Layton. Thousands of LAR graduates have benefited from Bressler’s outstanding influence and academic career, extending Bressler’s wisdom throughout the profession and to their own work all over the world. The Gene Bressler Landscape Architecture Faculty Award Endowment will serve as a tangible mark of Bressler’s legacy and ensure continued academic excellence in the College of Design.

If you would like to donate Give!to The Gene Bressler Landscape Architecture Faculty Award Endowment, click HERE. Your support will make a lasting impression on the Department of Landscape Architecture and ensure the legacy of a great man and devoted leader.