BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 18, 2005 – Paul L. Knox, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, announced his plan to step down from his current position effective July 1, 2006. After leading the college through eight innovative years of growth and building on the quality of two schools and three programs within the college, Knox has elected to return his professional focus to teaching and research.
A search for his replacement will begin right after the first of the year.
“The university is indebted to Paul for his important service and leadership as dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. “Ut Prosim calls for a commitment to serve and Paul accepted the challenge. The college is widely respected around the nation and world in part because of the accomplishments under his watch. Paul managed with aplomb not only the role of dean its attendant demands, but he maintained a remarkable level of scholarship throughout his tenure.”
In spite of budgetary reversions and restrictions of the past several years, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies has realized major financial accomplishments under Knox, including an increase in the college’s sponsored research funding from $2.1 million in 1997 to more than $9.3 million in 2004-2005. The college is now one of top five colleges of its kind in the nation in terms of research funding.
Meanwhile, since 1997 annual giving to the college has steadily increased from around $486,000 to about $1.6 million. In the process, the number of scholarships and awards available to students has significantly increased, and the college has established the first fully endowed professorships in the college. Knox secured funding for the renovation of Cowgill Hall, the main building for the college on the Blacksburg campus, and for a new 22,000-square-foot facility for the Department of Building Construction (construction is scheduled to begin in 2006).
“Paul continues to provide extraordinary leadership for the college and I will miss his leadership. I fully understand Paul’s desire to focus on new challenges and I wish we could have persuaded him to continue,” said Provost Mark McNamee.
Changes in the structure of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies have yielded important results. Knox established the School of Architecture + Design, the School of Public and International Affairs, and, along with the Virginia Tech Dean of the College of Engineering Richard Benson, recently announced the proposed Myers-Lawson School of Construction, which is planned to be supported with $10 million from external funding and is currently going through university governance.
Programs and facilities in the National Capital Region have been consolidated and expanded significantly. Programs in Urban and Regional Planning, Public and International Affairs, Landscape Architecture, and Environmental Design and Planning have been added to the long-established programs there in Architecture and Public Administration and Policy. A new research center, the Metropolitan Institute, has been established, and a large new building adjacent to the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center has been secured by the Virginia Tech Foundation for the college use.
The Department of Art and Art History, the program in Interior Design, and several faculty from the former College of Arts and Sciences were added to the College of Architecture and Urban Studies during university restructuring in 2002. Knox established strategic partnerships with the Academy of Architecture of the Università Svizzera Italiana, the University of Stuttgart, and the Politecnico di Milano. He also initiated a series of cross-college faculty development international travel programs.
“I am a strong believer in the land grant mission and in the particular role that the college and its programs can play in making a difference to our society and environment and in lending emphasis to scholarship and issues that are central to the maintenance of civil society and economic and environmental sustainability,” said Knox.
The face of college undergraduate and graduate students has changed during Dean Knox’s leadership. The percentage of minority students increased from approximately eight percent in 1997 to approximately 15 percent in 2005, while women undergraduate students increased from 35 percent to 45 percent over the same period. Today the College of Architecture and Urban Studies comprises 1,446 undergraduate students; 590 graduate students; 160 faculty; and 39 staff. The average SAT score of freshmen entering the college is 1227.
With quality faculty and students have come quality academic rankings across the college. Programs in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, public administration, and urban and regional planning are now all ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Knox said, “I must point out the obvious: these accomplishments are in fact the result of the efforts of the faculty and staff of the college and, indeed, of alumni and others.”
Knox is especially dedicated to expanding study abroad options for College of Architecture and Urban Studies students. He and his wife, Lynne Taylor Knox, have personally established undergraduate study-abroad scholarships. In 2005, they were inducted to the Ut Prosim Society. Recently Knox organized a group of Visual Design Studio students in the college to design a desk calendar featuring photographs taken by students and faculty on studies abroad. The sales from the calendar will be used to support study-abroad scholarships in the college.
Knox is the first dean to hold ex officio membership in the Board of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, a position that now rotates among the three deans of architecture schools in the state. He is a member of the national Academic Forum of the AIA Large Firm Roundtable and serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Regional Strategies, a non-profit group whose focus is on socio-economic issues in Southwest Virginia.
Knox is a founding member of a “Deans’ Collaborative” of public universities—a forum for the discussion of the current condition and future of undergraduate and graduate programs in colleges of design and planning at public research universities. Membership in this group includes the University of California at Berkeley, California State Polytechnic University, Clemson University, Iowa State University, the University of Illinois, Kansas State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Virginia.
Through it all, Knox, who holds the rank of University Distinguished Professor, has maintained a program of personal scholarship. In 2005 alone, he has published papers in Opolis, the Journal of Urban Design, and the Journal of Architectural Education. This year he has also produced two books, Urban Social Geography (London: Pearson, with Steven Pinch) and Urbanization (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall, with Linda McCarthy). Another recent book, World Regional Geography: Peoples, Places, and Environments (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, with Sallie Marston and Diana Liverman), was published in 2004.
While serving as dean, Knox received numerous honors and awards, including the Textbook Excellence Award for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Text and Academic Authors Association, for World Regions in Global Context: Peoples, Places, and Environments, with Sallie Marston and Diana Liverman in 2005; honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects, for services to the profession in 2000; the Textbook Excellence Award for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Text and Academic Authors Association, for Human Geography, with Sallie Marston in 1999; the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Service Award in 1999; and the Virginia Social Science Association Scholar Award “For Expanding Horizons of Knowledge in Geography” in 1998.
The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members.