Tomlan receives lifetime achievement award

October 27, 2009

Michael Tomlan, professor of city and regional planning and director of the Historic Preservation Planning program, received the prestigious James Marston Fitch Award for lifetime achievement in preservation education at the annual banquet for the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE). The banquet was the culmination of the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference, held in Nashville in mid-October.

Fellow CRP professor Jeff Chusid gave the introductory remarks and shared a slideshow highlighting Tomlan’s career with the attendees of the banquet, which was held at the historic Belmont Mansion on the Belmont University campus.

Tomlan’s acceptance speech recalled his long personal association with the namesake of the award, James Marston Fitch (1909–2000). Fitch, a Tennessee native, was an educator, author, critic, and designer who advocated for preservation of the built environment. Tomlan served as Fitch’s teaching assistant while he was a student at Columbia University and later worked for the Fitch Trust in New York City. Tomlan said, “I am honored to be the recipient of the lifetime achievement award that carries his name.”

Chusid and Ted Ligibel, NCPE president, presented Tomlan with the stone obelisk award and a bound set of testimonial letters.

Richard Longstreth, director of graduate studies in historic preservation at George Washington University said of Tomlan, “ [Michael] is not only one of the best minds in the historic preservation field today, he is difficult to match, let alone to exceed, in the dedication and skill he has brought to preservation education for many years. Under his aegis, Cornell’s program has long flourished, producing legions of new leaders.”

Thirteen historic preservation and planning students accompanied Tomlan and Chusid to Nashville to attend the conference and award ceremony. Emma Waterloo (M.A. HPP ’10), president of the Preservation Studies Student Organization, spoke at a reception on behalf of all Tomlan’s students thanking him for this caring, mentorship, and guidance.

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