2011 Commencement Celebration | Portland | School of Architecture and Allied Arts

On June 4, 2011, students from the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts in Portland

Department of Architecture |     Digital Arts Program |     Product Design Program

celebrated commencement.   The event was held at the YU, a contemporary arts center in Portland located in the landmark Yale Union Laundry Building.  The School of Architecture and Allied Arts expresses our sincere appreciation to the YU for hosting our 2011 Commencement Celebration.  Director of the YU, Sandra Percival, herself UO alumna, was asked to comment on the UO | YU collaboration.  She offered the following reflection:

“As a UO alum, I was pleased to have the UO Architecture and Allied Arts’ studio projects, professional open house, and graduation ceremony at YU. As YU embarks on its vision to bring challenging national and international contemporary art to Portland to empower the artistic imagination and cultural life of the Northwest and repurpose its historical landmark building, hosting UO was synergistic with our vision and the spirit the great space on the second floor beckons.”

The following is a pictorial essay of images from the day.  In addition to faculty members from each department who presented a certificate to the students as they walked across the commencement stage, all departments were represented by a student speaker:  Dustin Foster (Department of Architecture), Brad Saiki (Digital Arts), and Andrew Lindley (Product Design).  The student speakers were chosen to represent their peers and remark on their overall experience in the program.  All three student speakers were invited to submit their speeches for inclusion in this blog post.  Dustin Foster, who had already moved to San Francisco just days within commencement was kind enough to quickly email his remarks (despite the fact that during his speech he had tossed into the air each one of his cue cards…much to the amusement of his audience).  Foster’s speech is here included in its entirety, as numerous comments from students in all disciplines indicated that his presentation eloquently and delightfully shed light upon their past years of work and time spent at the University of Oregon’s Portland program. [If | when transcripts of Saiki’s and Lindley’s presentations become available, they will be added to this post…]


Last fall a group of 67 enthusiastic young adults set out to complete the final year their architectural education. Armed with zeal, vigor and vitamin D soaked-skin, this attractive, youthful group marched forward. Today a group of pale, malnourished, sleep deprived beings sit amongst you. But what you’ll notice is that the numbers have not dwindled. We did not lose a soul to attrition or the grand rapture.

Marching to the summit as a group unified by a common cause, we learned a great deal about ourselves and the world we occupy. We met many wise and noble leaders with grand and minute lessons of great significance. We learned from Brook Muller that the key to communication is to envision people with little tiny heads. David Gabriel bestowed upon us the importance of bonding. Just moments before my final presentation he attempted to dislodge a portion of my model.

Many lessons we learned were from within the group. Three of our more adventurous members set out to develop a barrier able to withstand the onslaught of God’s wrath. In doing so they gave us the R98 2000 Bio-Dome, able to protect against the raining fires of Armageddon. In spite of their valiant efforts, the group discovered a vulnerability in the barrier. Unable to withstand the onslaughts of Pauly Shore and Rick Astley, the team accepted their defeat and proceeded humbly.

Without the support group accompanying us on our journey we would not have completed our task. There are many who deserve credit, but I will mention a few who sacrifice a great deal to see us succeed. John Leahy works with a bunch of tools…in a windowless room below the earth. And yet he is willing and eager to offer his many skills and talents to all. Perched atop the White Stag, Chris Costler is incapable of being knocked off course. Chris offers several resolutions to any technical quandary without ever stirring from his post. Gerry Gast, our seasoned sage, offers a continuous stream of warm, inspirational support. The first time Gerry found me in studio past 9pm he said, “Dustin, what are you doing here. I didn’t know you worked hard.” Thanks Gerry. You cannot mention Gerry without immediately thinking of Nancy Cheng. The two are like peanut butter and chocolate, coffee and toilet paper. Nancy introduced us to many great practitioners and innovators along the way. Although I don’t know how she made the introductions as thought I was Craig Race up until a month ago. For those who don’t know Craig Race, imagine a taller, better looking, more talented version of me with a deeper, sexier voice. So I got that going for me, which is nice. Jeff, Jeff, Geoff, Jeff, Jeff. I lost count. Is that how many Jeff’s we had? There was a Jeff on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Together, all the Jeff’s made for a resource of all imaginable information. Thanks to PSAC for providing provisions and distractions to get us through. One of the highlights of the PSAC Beaux Arts Ball was seeing Hajo dance.

To our friends and families, thank you for putting up with our absence. We probably have not called enough and for those that were around, we probably have been ignoring you. We will try our best to make our way back into your lives.

Finally, Kirsten. On my cue card I have two things written, ”finally” and “Kirsten”. Without you we would be not be here graduating today, and that’s no joke. Without you we would be lost.

I have some bad news as we celebrate our graduation. In spite of our great sacrifice some of you will not become architects. The good news is that you have been provided with a holistic set of tools to take on some of the great civic, national and global problems that plague our world from the number one university for sustainable design in the nation.

So with great pride I encourage you to march forward and remember on your journey why you chose this path. But before you pack up and depart, you have earned the privilege to sleep for days.

–Dustin Foster, June 4, 2011, Commencement Speech, YU for the UO A&AA Portland



Faculty and staff, 2011 Commencement Celebration, Portland AAA.




Kate Wagle, Administrative Director, addressing the crowd.



Kirsten Poulsen-House, program assistant.



Corey Smitke, Assistant to the Administrative Director.



Michael Salter addresses the crowd.


Commencement speaker, Brad Saiki, Digital Arts.




Michael Salter.



Commencement speaker, Andrew Lindley, Product Design.


Kiersten Muenchinger.


Commencement speaker, Dustin Foster, Department of Architecture.


Nancy Cheng.

A selection of images as students accepted their congratulations from faculty…..



Dustin Foster makes his way to the stage.


post & photos | sabina samiee | uo pdx

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