Changing the Landscape of Design Education: John K. F. Irving AB ’83, MBA ’89 and Anne C. I. Oxley
With a contribution of $10 million to the Harvard GSD, John K. F. Irving AB ’83, MBA ’89 and his sister, Anne C. I. Oxley, kickstarted the School’s Grounded Visionaries campaign. The gift was inspired by their late father’s passion for both built and natural environments.
“Our father (John E. “Jack” Irving)’s first job was working in the woods and on river drives for his father’s forestry company. He loved the outdoors,” Irving reflects. “Jack Irving believed in the importance of forests for future generations and that conservation mattered. Through his work in the construction and building industries, he would go on to have a significant impact on the Eastern Canadian built environment, but he never forgot his time in the forestry business.”
The Irving family’s gift will have both immediate and lasting impact. The endowed portion of the gift provides fellowships for current students at the GSD, creates the John E. (Jack) Irving Dean’s Innovation Fund to support research for junior faculty and new initiatives set forth by the dean; and increases support for the previously established John E. (Jack) Irving Professorship in Landscape Architecture, currently held by Charles Waldheim, chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture.
Waldheim calls the family’s gift a remarkable first step—one that “is already reverberating around the School. We need money for faculty research, exhibitions, and publications. The Irving gift gets us started in those directions.”
Tiffany Dang MLA ’17 is the first recipient of a John E. (Jack) Irving Fellowship and the first in her family to pursue postsecondary education. “I wouldn’t be at the GSD without this scholarship,” says Dang. “This is the place you need to be if you want to make a difference in the design world.” Passionate students like Dang are part of a burgeoning landscape architecture program, which has doubled in enrollment since 2009. The gift will also support the GSD’s ambition for improvements to Gund Hall and for funding for the undergraduate concentration in architecture.
Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi views the Irving family gift crucial to both the future of the GSD, and to the larger world beyond. “This extraordinary gift honors the memory of John E. Irving, reinforcing the family’s dedication to Harvard and the GSD. Their support of the undergraduate concentration, of our students, and of our ambitious research agenda reflects our shared commitment to the notion of One Harvard,” says Mostafavi. “Together, we envision a School that puts design at the center of Harvard life, creating societal impact that will reverberate worldwide.”