By Beth Kaplan
Assistant Director, Alumni Communications
The Harvard Graduate School of Design attracts the most ambitious, talented design students who seek excellence in teaching and opportunities to advance their impact through design; they are driven to transform lives and places. While student ambition is unmatched, funds in support of their financial aid awards are not—the School’s substantial commitment to financial aid ensures our students who need financial support can attend the world’s premier design institution and emerge as the design leaders of tomorrow.
To honor the contributions of alumni, donors, and friends in support of fellowships and financial aid for GSD students, the School held its Inaugural Fellowship Reception in April. This powerful event in Piper Auditorium convened 33 donors, friends, and faculty alongside 84 students, who were mutually inspired by stories of impact and inspiration.
During the reception, Bart Voorsanger (MArch ’64) shared his vision for the future of design studies, which will be fostered by the Voorsanger Fellowship Fund—a future in which architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and design studies increasingly intermingle. The Voorsanger Fellowship Fund will support four top-performing students, one from each of the GSD’s disciplines—architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and design studies—who hold “great promise for making a significant contribution to these fields.”
“It’s incredibly important that we step up and really financially support this place in such a way that we can change the dynamic between GSD disciplines,” Voorsanger said, “and strengthen that dynamic with University.”
Other highlights of the evening included remarks from Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design Mohsen Mostafavi, Dana McKinney (MArch/MUP ’17), and Irene Figueroa Ortiz (MArch/MUP ’15). “There is a direct relationship between your support and the opportunities that lie ahead for these graduates,” said Mostafavi. “I want to thank you for everything you are doing for the School and urge you to support us to ensure that many of the students here will have opportunities in the design sphere that provide them with the greatest degree of freedom.”
The event featured the premiere of the GSD’s student fellowship video showcasing the power of fellowships and financial aid in attracting the most talented, creative, and wildly ambitious students to the GSD.
Four and a half years of studying architecture and urban planning at the GSD has equipped McKinney with the necessary skills to transform communities through the built environment. She shared her aspirations and her post-gradation plans with the audience. “I want to serve as a socially conscious architect in places that otherwise lack a strong design value—or strong design voice—and as an advocate in spaces of design that often lack social consciousness,” affirmed McKinney.
Through the generosity of GSD alumni and friends, she is confident that she will achieve her goal of serving as an architect and developer in under-served communities. “I’m incredibly grateful for the GSD community and the contributions to my education,” she voiced. “Without the generosity and support of donors like yourselves, I would never have had this amazing experience. And I’m truly and sincerely thankful for it.”
Figueroa Ortiz was the first recipient of the Gregory S. Baldwin Fellowship, which allowed her to explore the potential of physical interventions to enable or disable larger socioeconomic and political processes, with the ultimate goal of creating a more sustainable and fair built environment. The Gregory S. Baldwin Fellowship was created in 2012, with a gift from his family’s Lamb-Baldwin Foundation, whose board includes his wife Joan and children Benjamin and Sera. The Fellowship was created to honor, celebrate, and perpetuate his legacy. It is intended to support a top-performing student in their final semester of study in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design.
Ortiz is currently the Project Manager for Go Boston 2030 Public Realm Planning Study, which aims to transform Boston’s public realm into a more equitable, sustainable, and vibrant place where Bostonians come together as a unified community. Financial aid played a fundamental role in shaping her career path and that of so many other students. “Your support to the GSD goes beyond students; your support shapes the entire profession,” said Ortiz. “I see all of you as ambassadors in innovation and diversity in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning.”
Financial support empowers GSD students through providing better access to an innovative education, and the freedom to pursue careers without financial limitations. If you would like to support talented, young designers to dream big and to continue shaping the world around us, please consider making a donation to the GSD Fund. The Fund directly provides financial aid support to current students, and every dollar raised up to $500,000 will be doubled with a presidential match from Harvard University.