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LSU Landscape Architecture secures No. 1 rank

by Troy Gaulden

While Louisiana State University boasts the No. 1 football team in the nation, LSU’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture claims the top spot in the classroom.

National rankings released by DesignIntelligence, a bi-monthly journal by the Design Futures Council, have the LSU landscape architecture undergraduate program ranked No. 1 for the second straight year.  The school has ranked in the top 10 for the past decade and has placed either first or second for the past five years.  LSU is followed by Penn State University, Texas A&M, California Polytechnic State University and Purdue University.

2012 Undergraduate Rankings | Graphic by Troy Gaulden

This almost came as a surprise to the school’s interim director Van Cox, who thought the school might slide in the rankings without a new director.  Cox attributes the school’s focus on design and faculty consistency to the high rankings.

The rankings are established by compiling interviews of nearly 400 leading design practitioners.  The “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools 2012” issue also ranks the premier graduate programs in the nation.  LSU finished second among graduate schools behind Harvard University.  The school has a strong connection to Harvard.  The LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture’s faculty consists of seven Harvard graduates.

“We call [LSU] Harvard on the Bayou.  I think it says a lot, because they have a lot more endowments than we do of course.  The university is obviously a private institution and well endowed,” said Cox.

The LSU landscape architecture graduate program has placed either second or third for the past five years.  LSU is followed by Kansas State University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

2012 Graduate Rankings | Graphic by Troy Gaulden

Both Conrad and Cox feel the DesignIntelligence rankings will help recruit students to study landscape architecture at LSU.

“It’s important that it attracts people, lots of people.  In fact, when I saw the number of applications that came in we got a box full of them.  I don’t know how they choose who they’re going to let in,” said Conrad.

“We get a lot of recruits that way.  A lot of students look at those rankings very closely, so it’s very important,” said Cox.

Sketch showing the school's success | Photo by Troy Gaulden

According to Cox, each landscape architecture student has their own studio table for working on projects.  Cox says each year level has two professors that closely interact with students and critique projects.  For LSU landscape architecture students, branching out from the classroom is very important.

“It’s more of being out of the classroom in the physical world and seeing landscapes and design happen in the field rather than just staying inside the studio and just seeing things inside four walls,” said undergraduate student Casey Stallcup.

LSU landscape architecture professor Max Conrad developed the east and west coast field trips for the school’s students to travel across the country and around the world to bring landscape architecture to life.  Students vote on which direction they want to travel.  Conrad says the students travel to visit design firms and view projects, and they cherish that memory.

“This school is noted for travel.  And a lot of people will say the alumni will say that’s what they remember most, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences.  If you talk to any alumni anywhere in the world they will talk about the east coast and west coast field trips.  They remember that as one of the most wonderful experiences while they were in school,” said Conrad.

Conrad has taken students to places such as Japan, Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, India and China.  According to Conrad, very few landscape architecture schools travel annually to view landscape designs and learn first-hand on-site.  Conrad says he plans to bring students to Berlin and Paris this spring.

NCAA proposes $2,000 increase for athletes

by Troy Gaulden

NCAA president Mark Emmert‘s proposal to increase grants to student-athletes by $2,000 has been approved in order to cover the full cost of attending college.

LSU chancellor Michael Martin disagrees with the proposal | Photo by Troy Gaulden

According to Louisiana State University chancellor Michael Martin, each conference will now vote on the matter, and it is expected that most will accept the proposal.

But Martin, a former chancellor at New Mexico State, disagrees with increasing student-athlete grants, because not all schools can afford to do so.  Martin says this will widen the gap between the haves and have-nots.

“I’m not sure that the $2,000 serves a particularly good purpose for those of us who can afford it, and it most certainly will have a negative impact on those who can’t,” said Martin.

Also, with conference realignment and television network deals, the landscape of college athletics is shifting.  The Southeastern Conference added Texas A&M and the University of Missouri, a move that Martin backs.

“Both Texas A&M and Missouri are AAU universities, which means that they are academically very highly regarded.  They both have strong traditions in the sports we play.  They are within reach of our smaller teams being able to travel successfully there.”

LSU chancellor Micahel Martin on SEC expansion:

LSU FACES brings human remains back to life

by Troy Gaulden

The Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory provides a unique perspective of the human face.

LSU FACES Imaging Specialist Eileen Barrow works on a clay facial reconstruction | Photo by Troy Gaulden

LSU FACES assists law enforcement agencies with the recovery and identification of human remains while running a Louisiana missing and unidentified database.

The lab consists of seven women and several graduate assistants.  The imaging specialists use the actual skulls from victims, tissue markers and clay to reconstruct faces.  In addition, Photoshop is used to give the faces a more realistic look.

According to Mary Manhein, Director of LSU FACES Laboratory, you do not need a degree in forensic science specifically to get a job as a forensic investigator.  Manhein suggests that students who are interested in the field should get a graduate degree, because forensic science is a very popular and competitive field.

LSU currently offers forensic science courses to graduate students and graduating seniors, but that is about to change.  According to Manhein, the LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology will offer a general education course in forensic anthropology (ANTH 2014) in the Spring 2012 semester.

For a timeline of other FACES lab events click here.

Mary Manhein on facial reconstruction:

LSU Tennis will stay dry with a new facility

by Troy Gaulden

Although the tennis courts in “Dub” Robinson Stadium were recently resurfaced, the LSU tennis program still sits behind the curve being the only Southeastern Conference school without indoor tennis courts.

LSU rendering of the future tennis facility | Photo by Troy Gaulden

“We’re constantly recruiting, but so is everyone else.  There’s more and more schools that are competitive that are getting in on the same recruits, and you’re going to have to have something at least equal to what your competition has,” says LSU Men’s Tennis coach Jeff Brown.

“I watch the weather channel more than you would believe during the season.  When we have bad weather we don’t have a place to practice, and it makes it awfully tough to gain cohesiveness and consistency with your practices,” says LSU Women’s Tennis coach Tony Minnis.

Things are about to change for LSU tennis in the next two years.  The coaches will finally get their “umbrella” with fundraising underway for a state-of-the-art tennis facility.

“It’s going to be very beneficial.  It’s been a long time coming, but we’re really excited about what’s happening coming up soon,” says Minnis.

According to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, the future tennis facility will cost around $10 million and will be on LSU’s south campus.  The facility will feature six indoor courts and 20-30 outdoor courts.