University of Illinois School of Architecture Announces First Ever Alumni Advisory Board—Trina Sandschafer Named Board Chair

March 12, 2021

Champaign, IL—The University of Illinois School of Architecture today announced the formation of its first Alumni Advisory Board as well as its ten inaugural members. The board will serve in an advisory capacity to the school and newly appointed director, Francisco Rodriguez-Suarez, working to foster communication and networking between students, faculty, and alumni as well as within the broader professional community.

The Alumni Board has founded and generously funded the Alumni Board Design Excellence Awards, an awards program for the top graduate work for each academic semester. The board will assist in serving as jury members for the awards.

“I am honored to be collaborating with such an outstanding and diverse group of architects, especially as we seek to enlarge the school's footprint and relevance in the city of Chicago. These prestigious ambassadors represent the Illinois brand with the utmost sense of excellence, and I am thrilled to share our studios and classrooms with their expertise and ideas. While the current composition benefits from our proximity to Chicago, it is our intention for the board to evolve into a national and eventually an international representation. I am grateful for their leadership, especially Board Chair Trina Sandschafer's commitment to make it a reality.” - Francisco Rodriguez-Suarez, director of the School of Architecture

Alumni Board members announced today represent a diverse group of award-winning leaders from across the country including:

  • Eleanor Esser Gorski, M.Arch ‘95, Director of Planning and Design, University of Illinois Chicago
  • Dina Griffin, BS ‘86, President, Interactive Design Architects
  • Ralph Johnson, BS ‘71, Principal and Design Director, Perkins + Will
  • Carol Ross Barney, B.Arch ‘71, Founder and Design Principal, Ross Barney Architects
  • Patricia Saldaña Natke, BS ‘86, President and Design Principal, UrbanWorks Ltd
  • Trina Sandschafer, M.Arch ‘06, Board Chair, Vice President and Design Principal, Kahler Slater
  • Ann Thompson, BS ’90, M.Arch ‘92, Executive Vice President of Architecture and Planning, Related Midwest
  • Michael Toolis, BS ’74, M.Arch ‘76, MBA ‘76, Former CEO, VOA Associates,
  • Jaime Torres Carmona, BS ’99, M.Arch ‘01, Founder and Principal, Canopy A+D
  • Brian Vitale, BS ‘93, Managing Director and Design Principal, Gensler

“As a collective, the Architecture Alumni Advisory Board is honored to serve the Illinois School of Architecture. Each of us credits the School of Architecture with setting the foundation of design, inquiry, innovation, and dedication in motion in our careers. Built on a legacy spanning nearly 150 years, the School of Architecture is crafting a bold vision for the future of architectural education. Together, we will work to ensure that the school continues to inspire and delight future generations of architects.” - Trina Sandschafer, Board Chair

More information about the Alumni Advisory Board will be available on the Illinois School of Architecture website soon.

About the School of Architecture

The School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the oldest architecture programs in the country dating back to 1867. Illinois has a long history of innovation in architectural teaching and training. Nathan Ricker became the first graduate of an architecture program in the United States in March of 1873. The school is also the alma mater of the first woman to graduate with an architecture degree in North America as well as the first licensed African American architect in Illinois. The more than 14,000 alumni of the Illinois School of Architecture have shaped the built environment around the world for more than 140 years.