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W. Cecil "Cecil" Steward '56 December 6, 2021 9:55 AM updated: December 6, 2021 10:55 AM

W. Cecil Steward
April 07, 1934 - November 2, 2021

W. Cecil Steward, 87, Emeritus Dean and Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, died November 2, 2021.

Steward attended Texas A&M University and received his Bachelor's degree in Architecture. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. Additionally, he was a member of the Class of 1956. After leaving Texas A&M he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. Upon leaving service he received the rank of Captain. 

Steward is the first dean of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Architecture. At the time of his appointment in 1973, he was the youngest dean of architecture in the nation. He served in the role for more than 27 years, retiring in 2000.

Steward was among the driving forces that saved the University of Nebraska’s Architecture Hall from a planned demolition in the 1980s. The work subsequently led to the building’s $4.4 million expansion and remodel in 1987.

At the institutional level, Steward led the conversion of the University of Nebraska’s architecture program into a six-year, professional status program; added a public service center for community development; transferred the interior design degree to the College of Architecture; secured departmental status for the Interior Design and Community and Regional Planning programs; and created the Hyde Programs for visiting scholars and lectures.

He was well respected throughout the allied professions for his numerous contributions in educational outreach, the elevation of professional standards and his passion for sustainability.

Steward said the accomplishments he was most proud of included implementing the requirement of continuing education for architects as part of an American Institute of Architects policy that he led the charge on as AIA president; participating in the first architectural education delegation that established China’s first legal framework for the title “architect,” and the management of education and practice of architecture; leading the creation of the Nebraska Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal; establishing the Nebraska Center for Sustainable Construction; and creating a non-profit entity, the Joslyn Castle Institute for Sustainable Communities, to bring sustainable development principles into the education and practice of architecture and planning.

Steward earned numerous awards and accomplishments throughout his lifetime including the Joint Award for Excellence in Architecture Education; the Topaz Medallion by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture with the title, Distinguished Professor, ACSA/AIA; W. Cecil Steward Distinguished Chair for Sustainable Design, founding recipient, University of Nebraska Foundation; Outstanding Educator of the Year, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and the first living recipient of the AIA Nebraska’s Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architecture.

Known as a transformative leader, Steward influenced and molded the design and planning professions by serving on boards and committees such as the United Nations Best Practices for Sustainable Development and Local Leadership Program, the Nebraska Capitol Environs Commission, the UN Habitat steering committee for the creation of the World Urban Campaign and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission, to name a few.

Steward’s board service included the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities (JISC), the Architecture Research Centers Consortium, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and the American Institute of Architects. He was also elected president of the NAAB, the JISC and the national AIA.

Steward published more than 57 articles on sustainability in two years with the Lincoln Journal Star; coauthored with Kuska, the book “Sustainometrics: Measuring Sustainability” which has been translated to Chinese and published in China and the United States; and Steward with coauthor Kuska wrote a new manuscript, “Making Sense of Sensible Making: The Red Flag for Design,” which tracks design theory since the Industrial Revolution and makes the case for a new design theory for sustainable design.

Steward’s family is planning on a private service.

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