Remembering the Legacy of Dean Emeritus Robert M. Beckley

Remembering the Legacy of Dean Emeritus Robert M. Beckley

Distinguished faculty member Robert M. Beckley, Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Urban Planning and Dean Emeritus of Taubman College, died May 1, 2015, at the age of 79.

Beckley began his career instructing at the University of Michigan in 1963, later joining the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee faculty in 1968. Beckley returned to the University of Michigan in 1987 to serve as both Dean of Taubman College and Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning. Beckley served as Dean until 1997. Under his leadership, Taubman College expanded its presence across the globe. Beckley effectively began the relationship with A. Alfred Taubman that flourished throughout the years, resulting in the $30 million transformational gift and the renaming of the college to the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1999. The gift was one of the largest in the history of the University of Michigan and the largest ever to a school of architecture.

Beckley served as president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and executive member of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Additionally, Beckley served on the University of Michigan Advisory Committee on Campus Planning from 1997-1999, and the White House Council on Design from 1997-2000. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1985 and the Urban Design Institute in 1990. Beckley received recognition and awards for design, research and service from the National Education Association (NEA), Progressive Architecture Magazine, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Wisconsin and Michigan, the City of Milwaukee and the Urban Land Institute. In 2002 he began serving as planning consultant to the Genesee County Treasurer’s Office, helping to establish the innovative Genesee County Land Bank. Later, he served as Executive Vice President of the Genesee Institute created to provide planning, research and technical assistance to the land bank and others.

In 1980, he founded the firm Beckley/Myers Architects, going on to complete urban design plans for the Milwaukee RiverWalk, the Milwaukee Theater District and the Bellevue Downtown Park in Bellevue, Washington. Beckley stepped down from the firm in 1992 to devote his time to teaching and academic administration. Since stepping down as Taubman College Dean in 1997, Beckley resumed his professional activity in several planning consulting and development roles.

Beckley earned a B.S. degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati in 1959 and an M.A. degree in architecture from Harvard University in 1961. He retired from active faculty status with Taubman College in 2002.