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Letter to the Editor | Fulfilling the legacy of Thomas A. Dutton

We are writing today to sustain the legacy, intellectual contribution and community impact of the work of professor Thomas A. Dutton. We understand that you have already pledged to "carry the work forward" that Tom has developed over the past decades. Now we ask that you specifically commit to establishing institutional structural support to continue the spirit of his contribution to the university and beyond. This letter is written and signed to encourage Miami University to explicitly search for an architecture faculty member with the academic background, expertise, and experience to fulfill the role of Director of the Center for Community Engagement in Over-the Rhine (CCE) and honor the endowment the family is establishing to sustain his legacy.

As you likely know, Tom worked in Over-the-Rhine for 30 years, cultivating an inclusive pedagogy rooted in engagement with community and built upon the foundation of fostering critical capacities within students to enable them to be agents of change for a more equitable society. This pedagogy is embodied in Miami University's Mission Statement, which "empowers students, faculty and staff to become engaged citizens who use their knowledge and skills with integrity and compassion to improve the future of our global society." By rooting his teaching and praxis within a local community using place-based practices, students and community members came to see their shared humanity, and the global forces that shape their identities. Through nationally and internationally recognized programs such as the Over-the-Rhine residency program, and the Urban Teaching Cohort Tom's commitment to the education of a diverse body of students created an inclusive community for engaged scholarship and practice.

Tom possessed a unique ability to fuse teaching, scholarship, architecture and organizing against the tide of racism, gentrification and displacement, with a passionate drive that few can sustain with kindness and humility. Beyond community engagement, Tom was also a leading international scholar, publishing in books, academic journals and popular articles.

Tom's contributions were recognized internationally, nationally and locally:

  • Keynote lecture, Inaugural International Conference of the Association of Architectural Educators (UK and Ireland), Nottingham Trent University, 2013
  • The Creative Achievement Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 1990
  • Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, Campus Compact, for "outstanding contributions to service-learning, engaged scholarship, and institutional and community change through collaborative engagement," 2009
  • Crossan Hays Curry Distinguished Educator Award, College of Creative Arts, Miami University, 1996

And perhaps his favorites:

  • The Peaslee Neighborhood Center Partnership Award (granted to CCE)
  • Golden Hammer Award (granted to CCE), best volunteer service to Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, 2011
  • Partner in Building Beloved Community Award (granted to CCE), Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, 2009

As scholars, architects, planners, and activists from around the world, we have learned from Tom's writings, teaching, and community engagement. It is the unique combination of scholarship-pedagogy-organizing that we hope you recognize as the university seeks to fill his position in the department. It is important to recognize that Tom's absence creates a great hole in the profession of architecture, the communities he served, and the countless students across many academic disciplines who benefited from his passionate commitment and kindness. Tom's work modeled university-community relations, and the momentum gained by Miami University in Over-the-Rhine is too important to be disrupted or diminished. We hope you will ensure the continuity of Tom's legacy by rehiring someone that can fill this ambitious role and maintain Miami University's role as a leader in university community-based practice and pedagogy.


Kenton Card -- Managing Editor, Critical Planning Journal, PhD Student, Department of Urban Planning, UCLA

Robin DG Kelley -- Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, UCLA

Lian Hurst Mann -- PhD, architect, National School for Strategic Organizing

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Eric Mann -- Director, Labor/Community Strategy Center

Jeffrey Kruth -- Senior Urban Designer, Kent State University

Bradford C. Grant -- Professor, Department of Architecture, Howard University

Christina Heximer -- Associate Director, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture

Dan Pitera -- FAIA, Executive Director, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture

Jonathan Diskin -- Co-Director of the Center of Social Justice, Professor of Economics, Earlham College

Casius Pealer -- Director of Sustainable Real Estate Development, Favrot Professor of Practice, Tulane School of Architecture

Javier Arbona -- Assistant Professor, American Studies and Design, University of California, Davis

C. Greig Crysler -- Arcus Chair of Gender, Sexuality and the Built Environment, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Keihly Moore -- Assoc. AIA, LEED Green Associate, Studio G Architects

John Cary -- Author

Raphael Sperry -- President, Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility

Samuel Stein -- PhD Student, Geography, CUNY

Eric Goldfischer -- PhD student, Geography, University of Minnesota

James Fraser -- Associate Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University

Richard Milgrom -- Associate Professor and Head, Department of City Planning, University of Manitoba

Steve Badanes -- Howard S. Wright Professor of Architecture, Director of the Neighborhood Design Build Studio, University of Washington

Henry Giroux -- Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest, The Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University

Jennifer Gaugler -- PhD Student, Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Christopher Wilkey -- Associate Professor of English, Department of English, Northern Kentucky University

Alice Skirtz -- PhD, LISW-S, author

Thomas Fisher -- Director, Minnesota Design Center, Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, College of Design, University of Minnesota

Kush Patel -- PhD, Assistant Director of Academic Programming and Research Fellow, Institute for the Humanities and Humanities Collaboratory, University of Michigan

Craig Wilkins -- Architect, Activist, Lecturer, Department of Architecture, University of Michigan

Jeremy Till -- Professor, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Head of Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

Ruth Morrow -- Professor of Architecture, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen's University Belfast

Daniel Jary -- Head of Learning and Teaching, University of Sheffield School of Architecture

Johannes Novy -- PhD, Lecturer & Course Director, Urban Planning and Development, Cardiff School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University

Jane Anderson -- Principal Lecturer, School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, UK

Anthony Schuman -- Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Roberta Feldman -- PhD, Director Emerita, UIC City Design Center, Professor Emerita, UIC School of Architecture Illinois Institute of Technology

Victoria Farrow -- Director of Events, association of architectural educators, Programme director, BA architecture, Birmingham city university

Hannah Vowles -- Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Birmingham City University; Co-Chair association of architectural educators

Ashraf M. Salama - Chair in Architecture and Head of the Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

David McClean -- Professor, Head of School, The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment, Robert Gordon University

Shalini Agrawal -- Faculty, Director, Center for Art and Public Life, California College of the Arts

Geraldine Forbes -- Professor, Dean of School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico

Mike Pyatok -- FAIA, Principal, Pyatok Architects

Gary Struthers -- AIA, Project Architect, Pyatok Architects

Matt Bokar -- Project Manager, Scott Edwards Architecture

Patrick A. Hansford -- Architect/Owner, Patrick Hansford Associates (Master of Architecture, Miami University, 1986)

David Maxam -- AIA, Principal, Maxam Architecture.

Heidi Kristin Reger -- Architect, former Instructor, Bowling Green State University

Deb Struthers -- Project Architect, Gensler

Teddy Cruz -- Principal, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Professor, Public Culture and Urbanization, Department of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego

Sergio Palleroni -- Co-founder and Director, BaSiC Initiative, Professor, Portland State University

Bryan Bell -- Executive Director, Design Corps, Co-Founder, SEED Network, Associate Professor, NC State University,

Thomas Barrie -- AIA, Professor of Architecture, College of Design, NC State University

Michael Rios -- Professor, Faculty Advisor to the Provost, Engaged Scholarship and Engaged Learning, University of California, Davis

William Edelglass -- Professor, Marlboro College

David Perkes -- Professor, Architect and Founding Director, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, College of Architecture, Art + Design, Mississippi State University

Peter McLaren -- Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Co-Director and International Ambassador for Global Ethics and Social Justice, The Paulo Freire Democratic Project, College of Educational Studies, Chapman University

Ute Lehrer -- Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Peter Holgate -- Director of Learning and Teaching, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University

Mathias Heyden -- Artist, architect, activist, CalArts

Tony Ward, Architect, Activist, Lecturer in Educational Leadership at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, New Zealand, (recipient of the Wiepking Distinguiished Visiting Professorship, Miami University)

Anna Goodman -- PhD. Assistant Professor of Practice, Portland State University; Faculty Fellow, PSU Center for Public Interest Design

Nicole Lambrou -- Architect, Managing Editor, Critical Planning Journal, PhD Student, Department of Urban Planning, UCLA

Nate Hammitt -- Designer, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania department of Historic Preservation

Frank Russell -- AIA, Associate Professor, Director, UC Forward - Interdisciplinary Initiatives, University of Cincinnati, Coordinator, UC Niehoff Urban Studio, former Director UC Community Design Center

Kirin J. Makker -- Associate Professor of Architectural Studies, Department of Art and Architecture, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Todd Drennan -- AIA, VP of Architecture, Forefront Architecture + Engineering

Alican Yildiz -- Ph.D. Student, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Cincinnati