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School of Design 2009 Teaching Awards
May 26, 2009, Volume 55, No. 34



The School of Design has announced the 2009 Teaching Awards. The 2009 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching has been awarded to Dr. Michael Larice, associate professor of urban design and city planning. Dr. Larice—an architect, urban designer and planner, joined the School in 2006. He coordinates the urban design concentration in city planning and teaches courses in urban and planning theory, urban design methods and practice, as well as design studios that focus on the public realm. He is co-editor of the book, The Urban Design Reader. He was awarded funding by the Provost’s Fund for Innovation in International Offerings to support a course he developed, “Case Studies in Slum Upgrading.” This permitted students to travel to Kenya and Tanzania to study slum upgrading projects. To quote one of the student nominators, “He expects a lot from his students, and as such, many of us have progressed in our abilities and knowledge far beyond what we would have expected in two short years. He has also done a wonderful job of providing interesting and challenging studios, and restructuring the urban design concentration.” His students report that his classes are demanding and fascinating. He received his PhD and MArch degrees from the University of California (Berkeley and Los Angeles).


The G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching by a member of the practitioner faculty was awarded to Dr. Marja Hoek-Smit, director of the International Housing Finance Program of the Wharton School Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center and an adjunct professor in the Wharton real estate department and in the department of city and regional planning. Dr. Hoek-Smit has consulted with many clients including the World Bank and several governments. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Amsterdam in 1971. To quote one of her students, “The ability to link finance, housing development and emerging markets is done seamlessly in her class. It is never a struggle to sit through a three hour lecture in her class.” In 1978, Dr. Hoek-Smit met with Emeritus Professor Holmes Perkins, for whom this award is named, and has been teaching courses on housing planning in developing countries since 1979.


The Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Undergraduate Programs was awarded to Mr. Scott White, fine arts senior lecturer. Mr. White has been instrumental in creating and delivering a number of courses in support of the PennDesign sculpture and the digital media design programs. He received his MFA from Penn, and served for two years as a sculptor for Bob Engman. He also owned his own company, Scott White Studios. Mr. White earns top evaluations from the students, often filling and closing his classes before the semester begins. Colleagues note that he bag-pipes his students into their final exam! Students comment on his ability to lead in a positive direction and on his willingness to work closely with each one to individualize projects that will be meaningful to them. Students cited his enthusiasm and his willingness to make himself available.  

These awards are named in honor of G. Holmes Perkins, dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts from 1951-71, now known as the School of Design, and are given in recognition of distinguished teaching and innovation in the methods of instruction in the classroom, seminar, or studio. Dean Perkins died  in 2004. The Perkins Award was established by former Dean and Paley Professor Patricia Conway. The undergraduate award was established by the School. The awards ceremony was on May 17.

Almanac - May 26, 2009, Volume 55, No. 34