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School of Design Teaching Awards
May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34

Frank Matero

The School of Design has awarded the 2007 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching to Frank Matero, chair of the historic preservation program. His teaching and field projects are routinely praised by historic preservation students and alumni, many of whom chose Penn for the opportunity to work with him. Professor Matero regularly generates enough projects so each historic preservation student has the opportunity to get involved in conservation projects that advance their knowledge. The list of such projects over recent years is truly astounding and has included, among many others, the Ayyubid wall in Cairo, the Second Bank in Philadelphia, St. Louis I Cemetery in New Orleans, the New York World’s Fair site in Queens, and archaeological sites at Gordion, Turkey and Mesa Verde, Colorado. These fieldwork-driven projects give conservation students the unique opportunity to work in a hands-on environment. Historic preservation is a field that crosses disciplines, and Professor Matero exemplifies this in his work and teaching. He is best known for his work in materials conservation technologies, and has published widely his research findings. But he is also a leader in helping to define the social and intellectual purposes of conservation, and the management techniques required to assure that important sites accommodate multiple purposes. Much of his students’ research has been heralded in the conservation community and used for actual conservation and restoration projects. Current students and alumni uniformly praise his dedication and commitment as a teacher, a mentor, and leader in the field.

John Milner

The G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching by a member of the practitioner faculty is awarded to John Milner, adjunct professor of architecture. Mr. Milner is recognized nationally as one of the finest preservation architects and a leader in restoring and conserving structures that are national treasures. His first-hand knowledge of American architecture, as well as the strategies for restoration and adaptive reuse as practiced for over 40 years, has earned him national recognition by his peers. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. According to the testimony of one of his students, “Mr. Milner teaches with ease but with a passion that is exhilarating and motivating.”  “John has a rare talent for sharing his nationally-recognized expertise with students in an inspiring manner. He enhances this quality by connecting the classroom to professional practice through explanations of his notable preservation projects. These attributes, combined with his approachable personality, make John one of the most highly-regarded professors in the program,” a colleague added.

Gabriel Martinez

The Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Undergraduate Programs in the School of Design is awarded to Gabriel Martinez, fine arts lecturer. Mr. Martinez teaches the introductory photography sequence and inspires many students to go on to become photography majors and minors. Students flock to anything he teaches. He gives generously of his time to spot exhibitions, participate in department activities, attend exhibits, and participate in senior student reviews. He doesn’t pigeon-hole photography, and works with students in exploring video, digital, installation and spectacle formats. Mr. Martinez encourages candor and curiosity from his students, while at the same time is open and candid about himself, thus creating an open space for experimentation. One student writes, “His assignments are very stimulating and he pushes the student to follow through on ideas regardless of how daunting they may seem.”  Mr. Martinez is equally important to the graduate photography program where he has served as the director for the past three years.


These awards, named in honor of G. Holmes Perkins, dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now, School of Design) from 1951-71, are given in recognition of distinguished teaching and innovation in the methods of instruction in the classroom, seminar, or studio. Dean Perkins passed away in 2004 at the age of 99. The Perkins Award was established in 1993 by former Dean and Paley Professor Patricia Conway. The undergraduate award was established by the School and is offered for the third time this year. The School acknowledged these teachers at its award ceremony on Sunday, May 13.


Almanac - May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34