College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences’ Dean Ken White is pleased to announce Associate Professor Keith Christensen as the new head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.
Christensen earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Brigham Young University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in disability disciplines at Utah State University. His dissertation was on the impact physical environments have on opportunities for people with disabilities to socially integrate into their communities and his research continue to focus on making built environments accessible to people with disabilities.
Christensen served as the LAEP department’s graduate program coordinator and has won several awards at USU and outside the university. In 2011, he was named USU’s Graduate Student Mentor of the Year and earned the American Society of Landscape Architects Student Award of Excellence. Christensen also received the Merit Award in 2014 from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
“I’m super grateful for the opportunity,” Christensen said. “I love teaching students. I am excited to advocate for the department and for faculty as well as growing teaching and research opportunities. There is a high demand for the work we do and a lot of opportunity ahead of us.”
Christensen steps into the department head position that Professor Sean Michael has held for 12 years. Michael came to USU in 2008 after earning a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, his master’s degree from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as well as professional practice in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Colorado.
“Returning the program to a level of national excellence, establishing greater alumni pride, and seeing careers advance have probably been the most rewarding parts of my time as department head,” Michael said. “We’re the thirteenth-oldest program of our kind in the nation. We’ve grown from eight to 13 faculty members, remodeled every square inch of our department, hired a lot of bright young faculty and I’m excited to see where our department goes.”
Michael plans to take a sabbatical and dive into personal research before assuming his new position with a joint appointment in LAEP and the college’s Outdoor Product Design and Development degree program.
“I want to thank everyone from President Cockett to Dean White and all of my colleagues,” Michael said. “I’m grateful for this career chapter in my life and excited to see what happens next.”