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PennDesign Teaching Awards

May 10, 2011, Volume 57, No. 33

The School of Design has announced three recipients of their 2011 Teaching Awards.

These awards are named in honor of the late G. Holmes Perkins, dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now the School of Design) from 1951-71, and 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 (Almanac September 7, 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.

The awards will be presented at PennDesign at a ceremony Sunday, May 15, at 4 p.m. in Meyerson Hall as part of the School’s graduation activities.

The 2011 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching will be awarded to Laura Wolf-Powers, assistant professor of city & regional planning. Dr. Wolf-Powers teaches urban economics in the core curriculum for the Masters in City Planning as well as several courses in the Community and Economic Development concentration. Dr. Wolf-Powers is known for making the subjects she teaches understandable, interesting and current for students. Students were enthusiastic in their praise, noting that she is an inspirational influence: “Not only is her research and scholarship extensive, but she is simply a fantastic teacher. She is able to teach in a style that gets the material across while also relating to students on a personal level.... Her classes [are] the most exciting, useful and inspiring classes I have taken at Penn…I am indebted to her for not only making my experience at Penn so far a wonderful one but for also linking me to valuable resources and future professional opportunities outside [of] Penn.”

Dr. Wolf-Powers’ research interests include the role of community-based organizations in urban politics and governance. She recently published a four-city comparison of community benefits agreements in the Journal of the American Planning Association. Her research on local hiring policies was featured in a June 2010 story on National Public Radio. Dr. Wolf-Powers also researches urban labor markets, job-centered economic development, and workforce development. Her current work explores the potential for growth in the healthcare and biotechnology sectors to incorporate non-college-educated workers into center city and regional labor markets.

She received her BA from Yale University, a masters of public affairs from Princeton University, and her PhD in urban planning and policy from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, Rutgers University.

The 2011 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching by a member of the associated faculty will be awarded to Valerio Morabito, lecturer of landscape architecture. Dr. Morabito leads 700-level courses, including Topics in Representation: Landscape Drawing and studios. Students praise Dr. Morabito’s unique representation of landscapes, noting that his teaching style is fun as well as productive. Dr. Morabito is also currently a professor of landscape architecture at l’Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Italy, and a principal associate in the design firm of Cooprogetti in Reggio Calabria. He earned his MArch from the London School of Kingston and his PhD in landscape architecture from l’Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Italy.


The 2011 Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Undergraduate Programs in the School of Design will be awarded to Jeremy Holmes, lecturer of fine arts.  Mr. Holmes, a designer and illustrator, teaches Digital Design Foundations. Students have noted that Mr. Holmes “constantly pushes us to the extent of our abilities and further in our craft, while at the same time helping us perfect the critical eye and mind necessary to be a great artist.  His grounded perspective is invaluable not just to the classroom, but to our pursuit of careers in the art world.” He is also the creator of Mutt Ink, a multi-disciplinary creative studio, providing design and illustration solutions with experience in print, editorial, branding, publishing, web and packaging.

His work has been featured in publications such as American Illustration, 3×3, How, Print, I.D., Communication Arts, and CMYK; at such events as the Flash Forward Film Festival and Society of Illustrators Exhibition; and on-line for Juztapoz and Adobe.

Mr. Holmes holds a BS in graphic design from Philadelphia University and received his MFA from the Tyler School of Art. His first children’s book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Chronicle Books, 2009), recently sold out—a second edition is planned.





Almanac - May 10, 2011, Volume 57, No. 33