UO moving historic preservation masters program to Portland

The Daily Journal of Commerce reporter, Beverly Corbell, recently wrote the following article on the move of the UO’s historic preservation program to Portland thanks to the $2.5 million endowment from the late Art DeMuro.

The University of Oregon School of Architecture is moving its master’s program in historic preservation from Eugene to Portland.

art demuro white stag december 2009
Art DeMuro

The program, founded 35 years ago, will be led by an endowed chairperson the university announced this week. The Venerable Chair in Historic Preservation is funded through a $2.5 million endowment from the late Art DeMuro, who was a leader in Portland’s historic preservation and real estate development community, UO spokeswoman Karen Johnson said.

The program currently has only one full-time faculty member, Kingston Heath, but employs many architecture professionals on a part-time basis, Johnson said.

“It’s important to provide continuing education for practice requirements, what’s going on in the field and bring it into the classroom,” she said. “That’s such a benefit to the graduate program for students to meet and work with participating professionals.”

Johnson said the school would eventually like to see about 30 students in the architectural preservation master’s program, and that the selected chairperson will help determine the curriculum.

The chairperson will replace Heath, who will retire at the end of the school year. Applications will be accepted until January 4, 2016, Johnson said, and can be accessed at uoregon.edu. Plans call for the chairperson to begin work in Portland next fall.

“It is a full-time, tenure-tracked faculty position, and (the chairperson) will guide the curriculum, provide instruction and mentor all graduate students,” she said. “We already have a strong architecture program at White Stag (UO’s Portland campus), and it’s important they have a chance to do thesis work on actual (projects) and work with practicing architects as well as faculty.”

It was DeMuro’s goal, Johnson said, to see UO’s architecture preservation program expand by not only funding the chairperson’s position, but also increasing student scholarships and facilitating the move of the master’s program to Portland.

Although Heath will soon step down, he said seeing the historic preservation master’s program move to Portland fulfills a goal that began when he met DeMuro at a banquet about eight years ago. Heath said that DeMuro, a former history teacher, was very interested in UO’s historic preservation program and donated $300,000 initially to help expand the curriculum. DeMuro later donated $2.5 million to fund the chairperson’s position and facilitate the move to better quarters in Portland.

DeMuro didn’t stop there, Heath said.

“He also gave us $1 million for student scholarships,” he said. “It was his belief in my vision and my respect for him as a person who put heritage before development. It was a unique partnership of business and (academia) to enrich the future of the academic program.”

Many of UO’s architecture graduates practice in Portland, Heath noted. Plus, the city has many historic preservation resources as well as a “longstanding commitment to sustainability, adaptive reuse and preservation of historic buildings,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean the master’s program will be “Portland-centric,” Heath said.

“We want our students to be effective leaders anywhere in the country or abroad,” he said.

Heath said that DeMuro hoped the UO program would become one of the best in the nation, and the move to Portland should provide a boost.

“Change is always a little discomforting if you’re invested in Eugene, but this is just a second phase,” he said. “But we will have better facilities, better funding, and I’m very optimistic this is going to be a program that will be getting a lot of national attention.”

Here’s the link to the article published November 17, 2015