Hello CELA Members,

Things are moving forward..The CELA President's quarterly report will be sent next week, the CELA website is constantly undergoing renovations: http://thecela.org/
The 2020 abstract submission system is up and running: 
https://www.openconf.org/CELA2020/papers/openconf.php , and the call for CELA Awards and Leadership will be coming soon

We will end our summer of 'Conversations with CELA', with Taner Özdil, Regional Director, Track Co-Chair AND abstract reviewer, proving that we don't bind you to one title, position, or role when you offer your service to CELA. You can do many things and receive recognition for your services.
Conversations with CELA: Taner Özdil, Ph.D., ASLA
Regional Director and Track co-chair
Where do you teach and what do you teach?

I am an Associate Professor and Associate Director for Research for the Center for Metropolitan Density (CfMD) at the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA) at the University of Texas at Arlington. I teach graduate-level studios and seminar courses, which focus on design, urban landscape, urban design, and environmental planning topics with specific emphasis on urban-regions. I also teach and advise thesis research, and participate in interdisciplinary courses (i.e. hypermobility) and educational activities with allied programs.

Interesting fun fact: your family/personal life, the reason for choosing this profession, life lessons?

I have always enjoyed participating in outdoor sports (fishing, hiking, biking, mountain climbing, and traveling) but have never been able to resist urban living. Landscape architecture, with a strong touch of creative exploration, is the path that brings these together as a career. In recent years, with hot Texas weather and climate change, I moved most of my extracurricular activities indoors by becoming part of a community-based experimental performance nonprofit called Artstillery . I enjoy volunteering and promoting arts with this unique group, which aims to empower marginalized communities in West Dallas and beyond.  
What is your CELA position title, Committee name and members, and a summary, in your own words, of responsibilities with CELA?

I am currently serving as CELA Region-3 Director (Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas). In addition, since 2019, I have served as the CELA Board’s representative on the Standing Committee for Research and Creative Scholarship. I am also the Landscape Performance Track Co-Chair. I have been attending and/or presenting at CELA for about 20 years and serving the organization in various capacities since 2004. Some of these past roles include but not limited to; Abstract Reviewer, Academic Information System (AIS) Task Force Member and Research Associate, Research Team Memberships, and Landscape Research Record (LRR) paper reviewer and later LRR Editorial Board Member.

Why did you get involved with CELA?

Throughout my career, I have asked myself whether I should support my academic and scholarly community. The answer has always been “Yes” for me, even with the pressures of research, teaching, and service responsibilities in my institution. As a career academic and a citizen of this precious world, I have always believed in actively supporting my professional and local community while playing an active role in shaping our collective future as a discipline and area of practice. Perhaps my introduction to UT Arlington, where the CELA Executive Office was held for a period of time, has also given me a behind-the-scenes understanding of the meaning and impact of CELA (RIP - Dr. Pat D. Taylor).

What is your committee currently working on?

As a new Region-3 Director, I have communicated essential CELA information and regional activities and events with peer institutions. The Standing Committee for Research and Creative Scholarship just finished preparing the CELA 2019 Conference review article draft for publication and we are also working towards the 2020 Conference (100 Years of CELA ). One on hand, this writing exercise allows us to review the content viability of some of the existing tracks. On the other, it encourages us to explore the possibility of evolving knowledge domains and tracks by taking a closer look at the academic and professional trends in Landscape Architecture. For the Landscape Performance Track, we are in the final steps of the paper review and selection process for LRR 8. We are working towards finalizing this before the abstract submission and review processes begin for CELA 2020 in early Fall.

What has been the most rewarding part of your service work to CELA?

While I am serving and participating in CELA activities, I feel as if I am in my professional “home” among peers, friends, and allies who intellectually and physically work towards making the world a better place every day. It is such a privilege to be part of a community which chooses landscape architecture as its career path and positively impacts the environment in which we live. 
What has been the most challenging?

It is hard to be part of a young discipline and area of practice whose value is still under scrutiny, even in the face of increasing urbanization, environmental degradation and climate change concerns of the 21st century. Its knowledge domains are not effectively captured by us in the practice (academic or professional) and its true meaning and potential impacts are not fully understood by the public or peers and administrators in other disciplines. According to the Census, there are roughly 25k Landscape Architecture professionals in the US as opposed to over 125K in Architecture and 300K in Civil Engineering. Although it is open to discussion, we are considered to be a “boutique” discipline and a profession. We need to put in extra effort so our voices are heard and influential in both public and private arenas. I believe that we have to self-reflect even more through CELA, invest in our adaptability and strengths, tackle the environmental concerns of the century and take a resilient course of action for our profession by learning from nature!

Wishing you all the best,


Ashley Steffens, Associate Professor
UGA, College of Environment and Design
285 South Jackson Street 
Athens, Georgia 30602

CELA President
GSLA faculty representative
ASLA member
Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture