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Paul McGehee (MCP, MLA ’14) presents to alumni, faculty, and LAEP students at the 2017 Berkeley Circus.

Fall 2017

New Fund Builds a Foundation of Support for LAEP Students

The College of Environmental Design (CED) is defined by the motivation and drive of our diverse and talented students. Thinkers and risk-takers, challenged by a stellar faculty to push creative boundaries and committed to making a difference in people’s lives through environmental design, CED graduates are poised to be the innovators of their profession.

However the financial burden attached to the benefits of a CED education forces many talented graduates and applicants to choose income guarantees over impact. This is true across CED, but especially in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, compelling Professor and LAEP Chair Louise Mozingo to establish the Friends of LAEP Student Support Fund.

Launched in July 2017, with a recurring annual goal of $50K, the Fund aims to help relieve LAEP students’ financial strain while supporting the overarching goals of the university as expressed in a recent letter from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ — “We want every student to thrive, to have the best opportunity for the education to which he or she aspires.”

“Landscape architecture is a profession in which people are often extremely committed in terms of their professional ethics and their motivation for going into the profession,” explains Professor Mozingo. “It is also a profession in which the upper limits of a typical career are not highly remunerative. Students who come through the program with a significant debt burden are limited in their future career — unable to take greater risks, start a firm of their own, or do something quite innovative but not proven.”

An exchange between Professor Mozingo and LAEP alumnus and current Louisiana State University Landscape Architecture Professor, Bruce Sharkey sparked the idea for the Fund. “When I took over as Chair, Bruce mentioned LSU’s robust alumni support system for student financial aid, department initiatives, and so forth. He inspired me to begin thinking about that for our own department.”

While State support has declined precipitously, from 65% of university budget over two decades ago to just 11% today, tuition and fees have risen significantly. The additional high cost of convenient housing is forcing some LAEP students to go to great lengths, literally, to attend. “Daunted by the cost of rent near campus, I now have students commuting in from as far away as the Central Valley, using long arduous combinations of driving, buses and/or BART to make it to school,” said Mozingo. The effort underscores the tremendous value students place on a CED Landscape Architecture education.

In addition to reducing the financial burden for current LAEP students, the Fund will also enable the department to be more competitive. A number of universities outside of the state of California offer more generous scholarship packages at the graduate level than LAEP can afford at this point, limiting the department’s ability to attract underrepresented minority and first-generation college students who are the foundation of an enriching and diverse academic experience.

To date, the Friends of LAEP Student Support Fund has received nearly $20K toward a $50K end-of-year goal. Alumni donors are invited to make a recurring 3-year commitment of at least $1000. Contributors will become part of the Wurster Society, the annual leadership donors to CED.

Asked his reasons for joining the list of Fund donors, Bruce Sharkey commented, “Not only did I receive an outstanding education, the experiences I had both inside Landscape Architecture and from the vast opportunities I took advantage of within the broader university community changed my life and who I am today. UC Berkeley is more than just a place to earn a degree. It is a place offering rich experiences that can prepare students for life as well as a profession. Coming to Berkeley also resulted in gaining life-long friendships, people who were once classmates and now with whom I share in life’s events in a variety of ways. I hope that contributing to the Friends of LAEP Student Support Fund will make similar experiences I had available to others.”

The Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning is extremely grateful to the alumni who have thus far contributed to the Fund:

Heather Cox (MLA 2000)
William Eisenstein (MCP ‘00, PhD Landscape Arch & Environmental Planning ‘05) & Rosey Jencks (MLA ‘05)
Ron Gregory (BA Landscape Architecture ’72) & Marcy Gregory
Marcia McNally (MCP ‘83)
Bruce Sharky (BLARC ‘65, MLA ‘70) & Nola Sharkey
Malcolm Sproul (BA Landscape Architecture ‘73, MLA ‘75)
Kimberlee Stryker (MLA ‘89) & Mark Anderson
Her-Ching Wang (MLA ‘84)
Leslie Webster (BA Landscape Architecture ‘01, MLA ‘07, MCP ‘07) & Jordan Zlotoff (MLA ‘06)

For more information or to make a gift to the Friends of LAEP Student Support Fund, contact Gail Stanley, Office of Development + Alumni Relations at: gstanley@berkeley.edu, 510.643.1105.