Gift Announcement: Willcox and Whitelaw Chairs

Dear College of Design Faculty and Staff:

We are delighted to announce an important gift that will fund cross-college collaboration focused on the closely linked fields of urban design and urban economics. The College of Design and College of Arts and Sciences have jointly received a $3.5 million anonymous pledge for an estate gift that will create two endowed chairs named for well-known UO professors: the W. R. B. Willcox Chair in Urban Design and the Ed Whitelaw Chair in Urban Economics.

Architectural design and economics come together in myriad ways in the built environment. These range from cost-benefit analysis of design choices to understanding the market and spatial dynamics of the building industry. Economic and design thinking are also critical to the work of planners and policymakers in shaping the urban environment through the regulations and policies they implement. By bringing together students and scholars from both architecture and economics, this gift will help the University of Oregon prepare a new generation of professionals to purposefully consider the intertwined impact of both economics and design on our future cities.


Christoph Lindner
Dean, College of Design

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Read more about the namesakes of the two chairs below.

W. R. B. Willcox: An Internationally Recognized Educator in Architecture

Former architecture curriculum head W. R. B. Willcox would be enthusiastic about the vision for this gift. For more than two decades as a UO architecture professor, beginning in the 1920s, he espoused a nationally influential philosophy that architecture and design are a direct expression of a society’s values, aspirations, and character. A city, therefore, is one of the largest physical manifestations of a society’s personality.

Willcox had his own first-hand experience with urban design as part of the Bogue Committee, which drafted a city plan for Seattle in 1911.

Willcox was also a proponent of collaboration and interdisciplinarity, values the College of Design emphasizes strongly today. In “History of the Department of Architecture: An Evolution of Ideas,” the 1985 work of Michael J. Clark, a longtime administrative officer in the architecture department, the author wrote:

“Willcox also structured courses to require collaborative efforts by the different disciplines in the school: joint projects between painters, sculptors, architects, metal-workers. In this, he encouraged architects to learn painting from painters; to learn about the nature of metals from sculptors or metalsmithers.”

Ed Whitelaw: A Leader of Economic Scholarship and Practice

Whitelaw’s clients have included business management and labor unions; conservationists and energy companies; public planning departments and private developers, tribes, and litigation plaintiffs and defendants. As an expert witness, he has testified in matters before state and federal courts and the NAFTA tribunal. Since 1974, Ed has completed economic consulting projects for a wide range of clients including law firms; businesses; tribes; and local, state and federal governments. He has also testified before administrative, legislative, and congressional bodies on a variety of economic issues. He has held positions on state, regional, and national advisory boards such as the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, and the Oregon Progress Board.