Landscape Architecture Professor Receives International Design Studio Teaching Award

Professor Carl Smith was awarded the 2020 Excellence in Design Studio Teaching Award, Senior Level, by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.
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Professor Carl Smith was awarded the 2020 Excellence in Design Studio Teaching Award, Senior Level, by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A University of Arkansas landscape architecture professor was recognized with an international teaching award by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

Carl Smith, an associate professor of landscape architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, is the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Design Studio Teaching Award, Senior Level.

The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, which is the premier international organization for educators in landscape architecture, gives this annual award in recognition of a faculty member's excellent ability to direct design studio projects that demonstrate outstanding quality and/or emphasize the critical thinking and creative process.

"Carl Smith is a superb member of the Fay Jones School community," said Peter MacKeith, dean of the school. "Passionate, constructive and deliberate in his teaching, he is also productive in his research and in his service to the school. This recognition of him as Educator of the Year is more than merited and well-deserved — and confirms what we know well in the school: We are fortunate to have him as a colleague."

This teaching excellence award is normally presented at the annual CELA Awards Luncheon, which was scheduled for March 18-21 in Louisville, Kentucky, before it was canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.

Ken McCown, head of the department of landscape architecture, nominated Smith for the award.

"Dr. Smith, a student-centered teacher, has a unique blend of four strategies: mentorship, design habitus, collaboration and perceptualism," McCown said in his letter of nomination. "This broad set of methods allow him to connect with a diverse spectrum of students to help them find entry points to community design projects."

Along with McCown's nomination, several Fay Jones School faculty members and current and former students wrote letters of recommendation attesting to the quality of Smith's teaching.

"Weaving together periods of pragmatic learning with creative experimentation, Carl has synthesized a way of going about the design process which I have used consistently and with great success," said Beau Burris, a fourth year landscape architecture student. "It is this dance between left brain and right brain, logic and expression, pragmatism and perception which Carl facilitates so well."

Smith said that receiving an award for studio instruction is especially important to him since that reflects the majority of his time spent as a design educator. Smith uses studios to test design dilemmas he's encountered through research, as well as implement ideas that he's discussed with international colleagues locally within Arkansas communities.

"Tracing the design processes and studio-culture of my students has allowed me to contribute to the pedagogical literature, and learn a great deal about creative thought, design intuition and nurturing confidence," Smith said.

Smith said reflective practice and mentorship have helped hone his teaching style.

"Reflective teaching requires a community of like-minded educators," Smith said. "I have found this in CELA, but also at the U of A through opportunities at the Teaching and Faculty Support Center and with other Honors College Dean's Faculty Fellows, and — of course — within my home at the Fay Jones School, where reflective practice and attentive mentorship are the very DNA of how we teach." 


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design


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