By DAVID J. HILL
Published June 21, 2023
Julia Czerniak, a professor of architecture at Syracuse University and internationally recognized design thinker, has been named dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.
Czerniak will begin her appointment Sept. 11, A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced today in a campuswide email. Her appointment follows an extensive international search.
“We are delighted to welcome Professor Czerniak to this important leadership role,” said President Satish K. Tripathi.
“Professor Czerniak’s specialized scholarly understanding of cities like Buffalo, coupled with her longstanding commitment to sustainable urban landscapes, aligns with UB’s mission of excellence and impact — especially as we continue to deepen our engagement in the region and the world for a more vibrant future. Our School of Architecture and Planning has long been a model of translating knowledge into practice, and Professor Czerniak has the demonstrated ability and experience to lead and inspire our students and faculty as they innovate for the greater good.”
“During the search, Professor Czerniak stood out because of her vision for the school, substantial administrative experience, impressive research and practice record, and commitment to student and faculty success,” Weber said. “Under her leadership, I am confident that the School of Architecture and Planning will continue to build its reputation and strength while enhancing its impact on the region and urban contexts around the world.”
At UB, New York’s flagship, Czerniak will lead the only architecture school in the SUNY system.
“I am thrilled to join the University at Buffalo as dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and look forward to working with university leadership and the school community to advance its legacy of critical thinking, creative making and engaged learning,” Czerniak said. “It’s very exciting to imagine the rich possibilities the school’s multidisciplinary environment offers to shape fresh and innovative ideas and actions as we collectively envision and create a culturally rich, diverse and low-carbon planet.”
She succeeds Robert G. Shibley, who has served as dean of the School of Architecture and Planning since 2011, guiding the school to a top position in research generation among the nation’s schools of architecture and planning. Shibley will resume his faculty role in the school as SUNY Distinguished Professor, and will serve as the inaugural director of the Rudy Bruner Center for Urban Excellence.
Czerniak’s work focuses on the physical, cultural and ecological potentials of urban landscapes, particularly in deindustrializing cities. Educated both as an architect and a landscape architect, Czerniak’s research and practice draw on the intersection of these disciplines. Her recent design research advances landscape as a protagonist in envisioning and creating biodiverse, climate resilient cities.
Czerniak’s work as a designer is complemented by her work as an educator and writer: She has authored and edited over 30 publications, including three edited volumes, 25 essays and reviews, and has participated in more than 50 conferences, panels and events globally. She has been invited as a public speaker and guest juror at more than 40 schools in North America, South America, Australia, Europe and Asia.
In addition, Czerniak has received many awards and honors including a 2024 residency at the American Academy in Rome and the J.B. Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. Her design research and creative work has been premiated through exhibition and publication, as well as through award-winning competition schemes.
She has been a professor at Syracuse since 1995 and served as associate dean of Syracuse’s School of Architecture from 2014 to 2022, leading the school’s academic strategic-planning efforts and its successful National Architectural Accrediting Board review. In this role, Czerniak strengthened research support for faculty, enhanced the school’s international programs and expanded the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
In addition to her faculty role at Syracuse, Czerniak is also the creative director at CLEAR, an interdisciplinary design practice that focuses on urban landscapes in Rust Belt cities. She previously served as the inaugural director of UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate, whose projects applied innovative design research to challenges faced by urban communities, weak markets and shrinking cities.
Czerniak holds a BS in landscape architecture from Pennsylvania State University, a research master of architecture degree from Glasgow School of Art and a master’s in architecture from Princeton University.