DCP legendary professor receives top national recognition
September 24, 2012
Herrick Smith, FASLA, UF professor emeritus of landscape architecture, will receive the American Society of Landscape Architects Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal Award on October 1 at the President’s Award Dinner during the ASLA Annual Meeting. Smith is the 12th recipient of the award, which recognizes significant and sustained excellence in landscape architecture education.
Smith taught in the UF Department of Landscape Architecture from 1966 until his retirement in 1995 as professor emeritus. Known as a tough but insightful teacher, Smith served as a catalyst for thousands of students to explore ideas and opportunities in the field.
“Professor Smith served as an important mentor for me as a student and faculty member,” says Peggy Carr, associate dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning. “Of all his stellar qualities, I believe the most significant is the ethical foundation that underpins his beliefs. He taught me about genius loci and the landscape architect’s ethical obligation to respect it.”
Kay Williams, FASLA, associate professor of landscape architecture, was a former teaching assistant to Jot D. Carpenter, for whom the award is named, while attending Ohio State University. She noted several similarities between Smith and Carpenter.
“They both had incredible enthusiasm, and their knowledge was encyclopedic,” says Williams. “The combination of passion, personality and intellect grabbed people. Once you met Jot and Herrick, you never forgot them.”
Arriving in Gainesville in the fall semester of 1966, Smith was among the ranks of the first Florida Registered Landscape Architects. Learning what landscape architecture registration meant to Smith, others immediately began pursuit of professional registration. Forty-five years later, Smith’s example still influences and guides hundreds of UF faculty, landscape architecture students and graduates towards registration, pro-active membership and leadership within ASLA.
Throughout his years as a professor, Smith was known not only as an educational leader at UF, but also as a national icon for the landscape architecture profession.
“Herrick conveyed to his students and anyone with a genuine interest in other people and the world around us, how ultimately our actions can and will make the world a better place,” says Michael Sobczak, LAE 1982, who was an assistant professor at UF from 1996 to 2002. “It is a clear, concise lesson that can last a lifetime, and to me the essence of a great educator.”
In 1982, ASLA recognized Herrick for helping establish six landscape architecture programs at universities around the nation including Auburn University, University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Toronto and North Carolina A&T University.
Several years later, after the death of Smith’s friend John Ormsbee Simonds, Smith preserved the “Simonds Papers” in UF’s Special Collections Library. Simonds, a significant author, policy shaper and practitioner, was in the forefront of expanding the profession’s creative synthesis of environmentalism, urban design, and regional planning – a message Smith carried to students, Florida citizens and policy-makers. This marked the beginning of UF’s special collections in landscape architecture, an invaluable resource.
Many of Smith’s students would remember their first meeting with him as notable and memorable. Mid-semester, underclassmen were led to Smith by academic advisors throughout the university. Through his ways of teaching, Smith introduced students to the values of landscape architecture, stewardship of the land, environmental ethics, beauty, design and the extensive range of professional opportunities.
“He was and is a role model with unsurpassed integrity and an incredible ability to communicate with people,” notes Robert Grist, FASLA, and former chair of Department of Landscape Architecture. “His love of Florida and its environment command the highest level of respect from anyone who has come into contact with him.”
Through his passion for landscape architecture, Smith guided students in search of a major, thus creating a new generation of landscape architects who discovered their calling.
Raymond Jungles, FASLA, remembers Smith as “one of life’s greatest influencers. With a profound twinkle in the eye, he gave me a thorough introduction to the ‘calling’ of landscape architecture. Although sometimes purposefully vague, his lessons opened the mind, and were always well learned.”
Today, Smith continues to have an influential impact on the landscape architecture profession, within the ASLA and remains a role model to those who know of his lasting legacy.
“Those who have gotten this award are not only good teachers; they are legends,” says Williams. “Jot was larger than life and Herrick is too.”