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Gift to OU Will Preserve American School Legacy, Create New Positions

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Gift to OU Will Preserve American School Legacy, Create New Positions

February 15, 2023

NORMAN, OKLA. – A gift to the University of Oklahoma will honor alumnus and esteemed architect Bob Faust by creating multiple new faculty and staff positions dedicated to the American School, an innovative design practice developed at OU in the 1950s and ’60s. 

Sherry Faust, Bob Faust’s spouse, has made a multi-million-dollar planned gift in his honor to University Libraries and OU’s Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture. The gift will, through multiple avenues, support the American School Archive, a collection committed to preserving essential materials related to that architectural movement.

“Sherry Faust’s remarkable commitment to celebrating and building on the legacy of the American School will allow OU to remain the preeminent authority on this important movement,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “As OU continues to expand our capacity as a premier research institution, the Faust gift allows us to enhance that reputation in an area devoted to design, history and craft.”

The brainchild of university faculty like Bruce Goff, Herb Greene and more, the American School came to life at OU as an innovative architectural and design movement. The practice emphasizes drawing inspiration from the natural world, everyday surroundings and non-Western cultures, and it creates work organically tied to its surroundings.

Bob Faust, who died in late 2020, began his architecture studies at Tulane University but transferred to the University of Oklahoma to learn under Goff. He went on to work for Goff post-graduation and later taught at Iowa State University and Auburn University, where he balanced his time in the classroom with design projects of his own.

Sherry Faust’s gift will support five specific projects, all intended to protect and promote the legacy of the school.

Projects will include:

  • The Bob and Sherry Faust American School Collection: Maintenance of the American School Archive, which comprises historically significant materials related to the school. The archive is a partnership between Gibbs College and OU Libraries and is currently housed under University Libraries’ Western History collection.    
  • The Bob and Sherry Faust Curator of the American School Collection: The hiring of a curator to oversee the collection and coordinate exhibits and programming around the archive. 
  • American School Collection Exhibit: A permanent exhibition on the American School, to be located in the lobby of the College of Architecture’s Gould Hall. 
  • The Bob Faust Fellowship of the American School of Architecture: An annual fellowship that will support scholars, doctoral students and designers dedicated to research and publishing on the American School and related subjects. 
  • The Bob Faust Professorship of the American School of Architecture: A four-year professorship for teaching and research in architecture, interior design, urban design, landscape architecture, planning or construction science. The professorship will support creative initiatives such as – but not limited to – book projects, special courses, symposiums and more.

The Faust gift will elevate Gibbs College’s commitment to celebrating and furthering the American School’s legacy and impact. Gibbs College has partnered with OU Libraries in recent years to create both a digital American School Project collection and a physical American School Archive, which will be bolstered by the new positions to come from the Faust gift.

“The American School Project at Gibbs College has been further validated by Sherry and Bob’s gift,” said Hans E. Butzer, dean of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture. “Their generosity will secure a legacy of leading scholars from all corners of the globe mining the Faust Collection and American School Archives in support of continued research and programming. Generations of faculty and students will ensure the impact of the American School, and its students will shape everyday discourse and practice in the face of continued global challenges.”

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