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USU Emeritus Professor Richard E. Toth Named ASLA Fellow

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016

Richard and Diana Toth

USU emeritus professor Richard Toth, with wife Diana Toth, at his July, 2014, retirement party from Utah State. Toth was elected to the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows.

American Society of Landscape Architects Council's Fellows ceremony

USU alum Jan Striefel '78, center, former student of Toth and founding principal of Salt Lake City firm Landmark Design, accepted the ASLA Fellow award on her mentor’s behalf from society officials at a Oct. 23 ceremony in New Orleans.

Utah State University emeritus professor Richard E. Toth was named, this fall, to the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows. Former director of USU’s Bioregional Planning Graduate Program in the Department of Environment and Society of the Quinney College of Natural Resources, Toth was one of 28 inductees honored nationally in an Oct. 23 ceremony during the 2016 ASLA annual meeting held in New Orleans.

“This is a very prestigious honor for Utah State and well-deserved recognition for Richard,” says Chris Luecke, QCNR dean. “Richard and his students made remarkable strides in working with communities around the Intermountain West in sustainable bioregional planning.”

In the award citation, the ASLA praised Toth for his “lasting dedication and commitment to responsible and inspired planning.”

“(Toth) is dedicated to the culture and traditions of landscape stewardship,” the citation read. “Hundreds of landscape architects in practice today have looked to him for mentorship and share his dedication to the profession. His outreach to communities, governmental bodies and environmental organizations has, likewise, engaged people outside the profession in regional planning, respect for the landscape and the duty of everyone to live responsibly.”

Toth was named a Fellow by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture in 2014. The recipient of numerous awards from the ASLA and the American Planning Association, he joined USU as a professor in 1972. Toth served as department head of USU’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from 1973-1982 and 1987-1998, and joined the restructured ENVS department in 2002. He retired from USU as an emeritus professor in 2014.

Toth has high praise for USU’s bioregional planning students.

“They have consistently received peer-reviewed, professional awards and their research is making major contributions to the state of Utah and beyond,” he says.

During the past decade, projects by USU bioregional planning students have garnered multiple honors from the Utah chapter of the American Planning Association. These projects, focused on varied regions around the state, have included carefully researched alternative futures that provide community planners with detailed models depicting the project consequences of different decision paths.

Toth, who also served as a faculty member with the USU Ecology Center, says bioregional planning recognizes the importance of how the biophysical attributes of a region influence the human dimensions of settlement and culture. In a reciprocal manner, he guided his students to examine settlement and culture to assess their influence on the biophysical attributes of a region.

“Our goal with each project was not to tell planners what they should do, but to provide them with the information they needed to make sound decisions about community development,” he says.

A 1963 graduate of Harvard University, Toth’s first academic appointment was in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. In 1968, he was invited to join the faculty of his alma mater, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

“After pursuing an opportunity to teach summer school at USU in 1967, my wife and I were convinced our future was in the West,” he says.

USU’s bioregional planning program, Toth says, offers students an educational experience “you can’t duplicate in the classroom.”

“USU’s students rub shoulders with stakeholders responsible for communities’ futures,” he says. “When our students go into these communities, they’re rigorously questioned and their ideas are challenged. They learn patience and decorum in real-world situations.”

Toth says bioregional planning is a challenging and dynamic field of study.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you begin discussions with stakeholders,” he says. “As far as the regions studied, the one thing you can count on is change.”

Related links:

Contact: Richard E. Toth, 435-797-0694,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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