Alumni & Friends

The MSU Department of Landscape Architecture is very proud to have alumni working across the country. We encourage all alumni to use this page to keep up with the activities of the department and to participate in the education of future generations of Bulldog Landscape Architects.

Outstanding Alumni

Claude Thompson, William E. Lutrick, Thomas Eaves, Jordan Hillman, Alan Hoops, and Aaron Ruffin pose for a photo at the Landscape Architecture 50th anniversary
Claude Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a horticulture concentration in 1967. He was the first student to begin the landscape program, which became accredited a semester after he graduated. (While fellow classmate, Bill Lutrick, is considered the first official graduate of the accredited program, both Thompson and Lutrick had an identical course load despite their different degrees). Learn about how Thompson’s journey to the new degree program back in 1967 shaped a long, illustrious career in the public, private, and academic sectors. Also find out how a stint as an editorial cartoonist for the Reflector got Thompson more than he bargained for.

William E. (Bill) Lutrick, graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in Fall 1968, becoming the first student to be awarded the BLA degree. Originally, Lutrick wanted to be an architect, however, during the 1960s, no colleges in Mississippi offered an architectural degree. He started at MSU as a liberal arts major, but once he heard about the new landscape architecture department, he switched majors and has spent nearly 50 years in a career he loves. Discover how Lutrick’s career as a landscape architect spanned various industries beginning with the Girl Scouts of America and ending with aviation design. Also learn about Lutrick’s second act helping to preserve historical landscapes across the country.

Thomas Eaves graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 1973 after a four year stint in the United States Air Force. He grew up on a farm in Louisville, Mississippi where he loved scouting and became an Eagle Scout. He was married with a child when he began his academic career at MSU. Discover how Eaves traveled the country designing the most unlikely of spaces—cemeteries—and how that work helped inform a long career as a principal in a landscape architecture firm that serves the Hattiesburg area. Eaves was named the 2011 Alumni Benefactor of the Year by the Department of Landscape Architecture. View his work.

Jordan Hillman graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2009. She began working at a garden center in high school where two coworkers—landscape architects and MSU alums—mentored Hillman toward the profession. She is the community development director of Brandon, Mississippi. Find out how encouragement from professors coupled with her involvement in ASLA student chapter as an undergrad helped shape Hillman’s career in the public sector.

Alan Hoops graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 1985. He started out as an architecture major at the University of Cincinnati and transferred to MSU to pursue engineering. While neither of those majors proved a fit, he learned about landscape architecture, with elements that combined the two and felt right at home. Learn how a chance meeting in college with a world-renowned landscape architect changed Hoops’ outlook on the field. Also discover how a leap of faith turned into one of the best decisions of his career.

Aaron Ruffin graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2005. He continued on at MSU earning a Master of Public Policy and Administration in 2007. Ruffin works as a network real estate manager for Mobilitie, a telecommunications infrastructure company. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Diversity Summit, which brings a dozen landscape architects from around the U.S. together to discuss ways the ASLA can expand the profession as more ethnically and culturally diverse. Learn more about Ruffin’s mission as a champion of diversity and how he seeks to leverage the broad nature of the profession to diversify his own skills.

Visit for a full length Q&A with each of these alumni to discover how their time at MSU helped shape their careers and their place in the communities they serve.

Left to right: Dean Frances Coleman, MSU Library; Greg Bohach, Vice President, MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Blake; and Sadik Artunc, MSU Landscape Architecture HeadMarilyn Blake, surviving wife of alumnus Edward L. Blake Jr. was named the 2012-2013 Benefactor of the Year by the Department of Landscape Architecture. Marilyn Blake formally donated the papers of her late husband, Edward L. Blake Jr., to the Mitchell Memorial Library on Thursday, May 9. Blake, who died in 2010, was a MSU landscape architecture alumnus who became a founding principal of The Landscape Studio in Hattiesburg. He taught at MSU from 1977 until 1984 when he became the first director of The Crosby Arboretum, a university center designed to educate the public about the environment.
Read the full story here.

Paul N. Fields of Dallas, Texas, was named the 2011 Most Outstanding Alumni Member of the Year by the Department of Landscape Architecture. A 1989 graduate, he is president and senior landscape architect of Lambert Landscape Co.
View his work.

Michael Hatcher of Olive Branch was named the 2010 Alumni Fellow of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A 1982 landscape contracting graduate, Michael is president of Michael Hatcher and Associates Inc.
View his work.

Donnie Hill, a 1980 graduate, is the principal of Hardscape Company in Clinton. He created a pavilion and outdoor kitchen which were featured in Portico Magazine.
View his work.

Mark S. Jordan was named 2011 Alumnus of the Year by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Jordan is 1976 landscape architecture graduate, a real estate developer and owner of Mark S. Jordan Cos.
View his work.

Lea Ann and Whit Macknally of Birmingham, Ala., were named the 2011 Alumni Members of the Year. Graduates in 2000 and 1999, respectively, they lead Macknally Ross Land Design. She is president, while he serves as vice president.
View their work.

WAS DesignChad Watkins, Jared Acy, and Troy Strunk, landscape architecture alumni who attended MSU from 1996-2001, are the three principals of WAS Design. The firm’s corporate headquarters are situated in Foley, Alabama with satellite offices in Mobile, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi. WAS Design celebrates 10 years as Landscape Architecture alumni return to roots.
Read our story.

Make a Gift

There are numerous ways to give to Landscape Architecture:

  1. Outright gifts - generate the most immediate return for your contributions.
  2. Planned gifts - allow you to achieve personal benefits while simultaneously providing invaluable support to the university.
  3. Naming Opportunities - a variety of options exist for donors who wish to pursue naming opportunities.
  4. Donor Advised Fund - allows the donor to make recommendations on donation disbursement.
  5. Make a gift - Click here to start making your own personalized gift immediately with a secure online transaction using your credit card.

Please contact Jud Skelton at 662-325-0643 or by e-mail to discuss the best way to contribute.

The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.


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Telephone 662-325-3012
Fax 662-325-7893

Department of Landscape Architecture
Box 9725
Mississippi State University, MS 39762