Today, we write with sad news. Mr. Harry W. Porter, former faculty member and Dean of the University of Virginia, passed away yesterday at his home in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 74.
Mr. Porter was one of the founding members of the University’s School of Architecture. Recruited by Dean Joe Bosserman in 1969 after having taught at both the University of Michigan and Harvard, Mr. Porter established the School of Architecture’s Department of Landscape Architecture and served as its first chair until 1982. He was appointed Associate Dean of Administration that same year, and served as Interim Dean of the School until he was awarded the position of Dean in 1989.
During his time at the University, Mr. Porter was awarded the Elson Professor of Architecture chair and the Lawrence Lewis, Jr., Professor of Architecture chair.
Harry became the first University Architect in the Office of the Architect where he advised on the architectural design and development of the University grounds. He was also the first Dean of the School to live in Pavilion IX on the Lawn. He retired in 1994 and in 1996, a pumpkin ash tree was planted in his honor in front of Pavilion IX.
As a sign of the alumni body’s great affection and gratitude for Mr. Porter, the School completed a successful campaign after his retirement to establish the Harry W. Porter Jr. Visiting Professorship in Architecture. This program continues to serve all four departments on a rotating basis to invite outside guest critics and lecturers each year to the School.
Mr. Porter has been recognized nationally as one of the country’s finest educators in landscape architecture. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), an honorary member of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects (VSAIA), and former president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.
That was his professional resume. To those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, Harry was invincible – the white knight who could do no wrong. As a student in Mr. Porter’s program, OvS Principal Eric Groft describes him as, “…Omnipotent, almost god-like, and one would do anything to get his favorable recognition.”
Here at Oehme, van Sweden, we are deeply saddened with the news of Harry Porter’s passing, but know that his memory will live on in our hearts, our work, and our passion for the art of landscape architecture. He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.
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