W. Cecil Steward ’56, the first Texas A&M former student to be elected as an American Institute of Architects national president and the inaugural, longtime dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Architecture, passed away Nov. 2, 2021.

Steward, an Outstanding Alumnus of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, served as dean at the NU College of Architecture from 1973 until his retirement in 2000.

“We would not be the institution we are today if not for his vision, passion and stewardship of this great college,” said Katherine Ankerson, current dean of NU’s College of Architecture. “I can’t express how deeply this loss will be felt not only among our college family but also the profession, as he made such an indelible impact on its history and trajectory. He will be greatly missed by so many.”

A member of the AIA’s prestigious College of Fellows, Steward was well respected throughout the design and planning professions for his numerous contributions in educational outreach, elevation of professional standards, and passion for sustainability.

His many accomplishments included leading the implementation of an American Institute of Architects’ continuing education requirement, establishing the Nebraska Center for Sustainable Construction, and creating a nonprofit entity, the Joslyn Castle Institute for Sustainable Communities, to bring sustainable development principles into the education and practice of architecture and planning.

Steward’s numerous awards and accomplishments included the Joint Award for Excellence in Architecture Education; the AIA Topaz Medallion; Distinguished Professor, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; Outstanding Educator of the Year, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the first living recipient of AIA Nebraska’s Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architecture.

Known as a transformative leader, Steward also 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.

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

“Cecil was a personal friend, a most distinguished university colleague and a giant in his field,” said Ronnie Green, NU chancellor. “His reach was extraordinary and extended from the university broadly across Nebraska, throughout our country and, indeed, the world.”