Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

Judith Wasserman, Candidate for CELA First Vice President/President-Elect

CELA (Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture)

Judith Wasserman, Candidate for CELA First Vice President/President-Elect

Judith Wasserman, Professor, Landscape Architecture Program, West Virginia University

Judith Wasserman has been engaged in landscape architecture academic practice since 1991. She has been on the faculty at Arizona State University (ASU) (1991-1998), the University of Georgia (UGA) (1998-2016), and West Virginia University (WVU) (2016-present). She holds degrees in Landscape Architecture (MLA), City and Regional Planning (MRP), and Anthropology (BA). Her experience in the academy includes teaching, research, design and planning, and academic leadership. Prior, she worked in private landscape architectural practice focused on public urban design works. Most recently, she served as Provost Fellow at WVU to examine disparate design programs throughout the institution, and present strategies to strengthen design education through an integrative plan. She also served as Founding Director of the School of Design and Community Development at WVU, which included working across disciplines to bolster each professional program while creating a unified school. While at UGA, Wasserman served as MLA Coordinator, Diversity Coordinator, and Provost Fellow. Wasserman’s leadership within CELA includes service as Region 6 Director (2001-2004) and VP for Communications and Outreach (VPCO) (2014-2016). Highlights of VPCO service include initiating the process of updating the previous CELA website for more fluid communication, and successfully leading a participatory design competition to reimagine the CELA logo. She currently serves as CELA History and Theory Track Co-Chair (2015 to the present) which has included the mentorship of junior faculty in CELA participation. Additional contributions to landscape architecture education include chairing LAAB Accreditation program reviews (2012-present).

Having been involved with academic practice for almost 30 years, Wasserman understands the critical role CELA plays in landscape architecture education. CELA offers an essential home for emerging and established scholars to meet, present research and creative works, engage in meaningful and essential discussions to further the profession, establish both formal and informal mentorship paths for junior faculty, and establish a venue in which to share knowledge, pedagogical strategies, and institutional support across academic units. It offers a place to test out research and creative ideas, activate a healthy exchange and debate to refine ideas, and promote collaborations across institutions to move ideas forward and further.

As we approach this new decade, the role of CELA has become especially crucial. Institutional demands for junior faculty navigating the tenure ladder are increasingly complex and stringent. The research and creative scholarship mentorship offered through CELA Conferences and publications are critical, and the President can lead in facilitating avenues for junior faculty and graduate students to link with senior faculty as advisors, and to connect great scholarship with appropriate venues to highlight work both within and external to CELA.

Landscape architecture and the related planning professions are addressing dire concerns. As environmental realities and social constructs are rapidly shifting, landscape architecture educators are leading the way to solve these global issues. In both studio and through scholarly and creative production, faculty and students are experimenting with approaches to mitigate climate change, repair societal disruption, promote health and wellness, enhance equity, design for cultural preservation, and a multitude of other creative solutions to the needs of this epoch. The role of the CELA
President can serve to ensure that the work of academic landscape architecture practice is highlighted, disseminated, and introduced to a broader audience to promote the profession and its capacity to elicit and elegantly solve major problems through environmental design. As CELA President, Wasserman sees the role as a forum to advocate and promote the importance of landscape architecture, both within the academy and in practice.

Landscape architecture as a “connector” profession has always recognized and engaged specialists across disciplines to enhance and refine design strategies and to deepen and enhance design production. While the primary purpose of CELA is to promote faculty and students within landscape architecture programs, it also is an organization that can reach beyond and encourage participation from allied disciplines. This can deepen research, creative connectivity, and practice, and offer integrative approaches to current issues. As CELA President, Wasserman visions developing mechanisms for participation from scholars and creative practitioners from related disciplines to enhance and further the research and networking capacity of the organization.

One of the essential purposes of CELA is holding the annual conference to present scholarship and creative works. Towards that end, Wasserman has served as History and Theory Track Co-Chair for the past 5 years. Understanding the essential technical mechanism of funneling the abstracts to the correct tracks, ensuring the review process is managed in a timely way, encouraging the development of abstracts into publishable works, organizing presentations into sessions, identifying the “Best Paper of CELA” award, and the assemblage of work into Landscape Research Record is an essential function of CELA. Wasserman can offer experience and new ideas to further enhance this process. In addition, Wasserman has published in and served as Guest Editor for Landscape Journal. As the premiere scholarly venue within CELA, continuation and relevancy of the journal will be a key component of the CELA Presidency within the upcoming years.

Finally, as someone who works in the realm of both scholarly research and creative activity, Wasserman understands the importance of CELA to ensure that all forms of faculty production have peer-review venues to ensure faculty promotion and success. She is excited about the new tracks for peer-reviewed presentation and publication and looks forward to increasing recognition of all-important work within the profession.

Wasserman remembers the excitement of her first CELA Conferences: University of Oregon, 1993 and Gulfport, Mississippi, 1994. She recalls the exhilaration of scholars with diverse research agendas, teaching pedagogy, and creative works all converging for a few days for landscape architecture education immersion. It allowed her and others to get important feedback on their work, network at after-hour events, and to meet dedicated faculty from around the world. Since that time, Wasserman has attended a multitude of conferences, has served in leadership roles within the academy, in CELA, and in other organizations to benefit landscape architecture education. She has reviewed, visited, and networked with scores of landscape architecture programs throughout the world. Wasserman recognizes the essential value of CELA to refine and enhance educational practice, scholarly production, and creative works that are now, more than ever, essential in the world. She would be honored to serve as First Vice-President/President Elect of CELA for the 2020-2023 term in order to further the mission of CELA, offer new ideas and initiatives, and support the critical work of the organization to make sure the voice of landscape architecture education continues to grow in volume, depth, and range.