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TUCSON, Ariz. - "It's a very good day for us." Ron Stoltz, ASLA, Professor and Director School of Landscape Architecture used those words April 10 to describe the feeling of students and faculty at the University of Arizona upon learning of the decision to keep the landscape architecture school open. Earlier this year, the University of Arizona announced that the School of Landscape Architecture would be among roughly 15 programs cut at the Tucson-based campus due to budget cuts. This led to an outpouring of concern and criticism toward the university and support for the landscape architecture program. Those efforts are credited with Thursday's sudden reversal of position. "We have received tremendous support from the industry through their writing to the (University of Arizona) provost," Stoltz told LASN. In addition to the letter-writing campaign, Stoltz said donations have been received to help fund the program. "We had planned on a fundraising campaign, but it hasn't officially begun," he said. "Despite this, $50,000 has already been raised, and several area landscape architecture firms have pledged to donate $2,000 a year over the next five years." Stoltz said news of the University's decision to retain the school was delivered to the landscape architecture department via a lengthy memo that described the arguments to keep the school open as "persuasive." "While the initial proposal to close our School and that of 15 others - including the School of Planning - may have hurt our reputation, it does gives us an opportunity now to move ahead with a great deal of support that many have brought to bear through letters and emails of support," Stoltz told LASN. "We will emerge from this experience with the School of Planning transferred to the College of Public Health. While we regret losing them with this college we will still have the opportunity to work with them. The Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) led opposition to the closing, providing University leaders with data indicating that the demand for landscape architects will soon outpace the number of graduates being produced to enter the profession. They also communicated news about the closing to alumni, prospective students, Arizona public officials, and professional colleagues around the nation and organized a letter-writing campaign. "There is a very high demand for graduates of this program, who understand our regional environmental and growth issues," said Dean Chambers, ASLA, president of the Arizona chapter of ASLA and an associate with EDAW, one of the largest landscape architecture firms in the world. "The UA graduate program is meeting a real need in our state and region." Stoltz said despite the university's decision to keep the school of landscape architecture open, the fundraising efforts will continue, with a goal of raising $500,000 annually for the program.

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July 19, 2019, 6:51 pm PDT

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