University of Virginia’s School of Architecture names C.L. Bohannon as its first Associate Dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion | News

The University of Virginia’s School of Architecture has announced the appointment of C.L. Bohannon, PhD, ALSA, as its first Associate Dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (AD JEDI), effective July 25, 2022. He joins the faculty as Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department. 

Bohannon is currently an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and the Associate Director in the School of Architecture + Design at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is also the Director of the Community Engagement Lab and Faculty Principal at the Leadership and Social Change Residential College at Virginia Tech. 

Bohannon’s research focuses on the relationship between community engagement and design education. His pedagogy, through the lens of landscape architecture, examines the asymmetrical power relationships and systems that produce social and environmental inequities in marginalized communities, or as he describes it, “uneven geographies,” that result in health disparities, gentrification, forced migration, and displacement, among others. Throughout his 18 years of teaching, Bohannon has employed an approach defined as “R3” (“Real People, Real Problems, Real Projects”) that incorporates learning through methods of community mapping and storytelling that build leadership skills for effective service and citizenship. 

“C.L.’s experience working collaboratively with communities to envision transformative futures, together with his extraordinary empathy, curiosity, and intelligence, make him ideally positioned to guide and inspire us in the next steps of our shared work to build and sustain a culture of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Sheila Crane, Associate Professor of Architectural History, co-chair of the school’s Inclusion and Equity Committee, and co-chair of the AD JEDI search committee.

Previously on Archinect: The University of Virginia names Malo A. Hutson as dean of the School of Architecture

Bohannon has worked to drive diversity and increase the visibility of landscape architecture and other build environment professions among minority populations. He is the co-chair of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Track and is a faculty advisor and mentor for the Deans’ Equity and Inclusion Initiative. “I feel strongly that designers of color should be intimately involved in creating vibrant spaces for living, thriving, and flourishing,” said Bohannon. 

At the University of Virginia, Bohannon will continue to lead and grow the Community Engagement Lab, where he’s worked with communities throughout the Southwest Virginia region of Appalachia, focused on food insecurity, community histories and narratives, and urban vacancy. 

Bohannon has been recognized for his teaching and research with numerous honors including a national “Excellence in Service Learning” award by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture as well as an “Excellence in Outreach” award and a “Courageous Leadership Favorite Faculty Award” by Virginia Tech. He was also named a faculty fellow by the Global Forum for Urban and Regional Resilience. 

Bohannon received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2002 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and in 2004, received a Master of Landscape Architecture followed by a PhD in Architecture and Design Research in 2014, both from Virginia Tech. He is currently a Co-Principal Investigator on the “Historic Context Study of African American Outdoor Recreation” project funded by the Organization of American Histories and the National Park Service, and is co-editing an anthology entitled African American Landscapes Since Jim Crow: Narrative, Place and Memory.

“It is clear that there is a deep institutional commitment to diversity and equity as a principle of leadership and excellence at UVA. The University, and the A-School, is actively engaged in the often-painful work of self-reflection that is required to cultivate intentional and purposeful growth through education and engagement,” said Bohannon. “I am enthusiastic to collaborate with faculty, students, staff, and communities across the Commonwealth as we contend with long-standing socio-environmental inequalities. I believe that as creative practitioners, we have the necessary critical and creative tools to redress harms that have come from design and planning and that we can work with congruent integrity and practice. Together we will build upon the beauty and possibilities of diversity to cultivate just, equitable, and inclusive futures.”

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