Robert Harris receives Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award

School News

Robert Harris receives Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award

August 19, 2015

Professor Emeritus Robert Harris, FAIA was awarded the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award in April at the 2015 Academic Honors Convocation. Given to a select number of retired faculty, the award recognizes eminent careers and notable contributions to USC, the profession, and the community.


“Bob Harris has been a spokesperson for urban humanity and has worked tirelessly to mentor students and engage his fellow faculty,” said Dean Qingyun Ma. “I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”


The award caps off Harris’s 34 years at the USC School of Architecture, where he served as Dean from 1981 to 1992, as well as Director of the Master of Architecture Program (1993-2004) and Director of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program (2006-2011, 2012-2014). In all of these roles, Professor Harris notes that he “applied [himself] to campus and academic concerns for research, teaching, and practice in the urban landscape.”


“I came to Los Angeles and to USC to engage the architecture and planning opportunities and problems of cities,” said Professor Harris. “I continue to believe that architects, at their best, design the city project-by-project, thousands each year that serve their owner’s interests while forming the urban space which they have the power to transform. Young people becoming design professionals must learn this and Schools of Architecture must teach and inspire leadership for the future of human settlements in large urban places.”


In the course of his notable career, Professor Harris has received numerous awards for teaching, research, and practice. He was one of the first five educators in the United States to be named an ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) Distinguished Professor. In 2011, he received honorary membership from the American Society of Landscape Architects; this is awarded in recognition of notable service to the profession and is one of the highest honors the ASLA gives to non-landscape architects. Under Harris’s directorship, USC’s Master of Landscape Architecture program achieved a six-year accreditation within the minimum time allowed. Also in 2011, Harris received the Outstanding Educator award from CELA (Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture).


In addition to his involvement in the USC community, Professor Harris’s work has made a significant impact in Los Angeles. He co-chaired the Downtown Strategic Plan Advisory Committee and the Mayor’s Design Advisory Panel. He was a founder and is past-president of the Urban Design Advisory Coalition. He is also a past president of the Los Angeles Conservancy and served on the selection panels for architects for the Los Angeles Cathedral and Disney Concert Hall.


Harris says that "my friends in Oregon thought I was crazy to move to Los Angeles, but the opportunities I have had at USC and in the city have more than justified the move.”


Read Guy Horton’s Legacy of Leadership interview with Professor Harris here.