Former college administrator reshaped OU design programs

Charles Graham

Charles Graham

Charles Graham, 64, a former administrator and member of the Texas A&M College of Architecture faculty who served as dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma since 2008, died Feb. 12, 2016 surrounded by family. 

A funeral service is scheduled 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 in Bethel Baptist Church, 1717 W. Lindsey St. in Norman, Okla. A viewing is scheduled 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 at Havenbrook Funeral Home, 3401 Havenbrook St. in Norman. Graham family members will be in attendance from 5 - 7 p.m.

Graham transformed the OU College of Architecture during his deanship, said Thomas Woodfin, a professor of landscape architecture at OU and a colleague of Graham’s when both taught at Texas A&M.

“He worked hard to improve communication between faculty, renewed our strategic direction and provided much-needed administrative consistency during his tenure at OU,” said Woodfin. “Graham loved to teach, create opportunities for students to learn and was particularly fond of hands-on experiential learning. He had as much fun in those situations as the students did.”

Before accepting the dean’s post at OU, Graham spent 26 years as a faculty member and administrator at Texas A&M, starting as a lecturer in 1982. He was eventually named a professor of construction science and later holder of the History Maker Homes Endowed Professorship in Construction Science.

In one of Graham’s Texas A&M classes, students designed two prototype community centers to serve residents in colonias, border communities near the Texas-Mexico border that often lack basic infrastructure and amenities such as running water. Today, 42 centers from El Paso to Brownsville serve the Colonias Program, providing facilities that support a wide array of program services including community resource and self-help programs.

Graham’s service at Texas A&M also included terms as interim head of the Department of Construction Science and executive associate dean of the College of Architecture.

“I always admired his quiet, yet firm, leadership and management style, anchored on a foundation of uncompromising respect and deep care for everyone who had a chance to interact with him,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, who joined the university faculty in 2006. “Graham will be deeply missed by all those who knew him.”

In addition to being a consumate educator, said David Bilbo, Texas A&M professor of construction science, Graham was completely devoted to his family, a wonderful grandfather, and a loyal and treasured friend who "had the strongest faith of practically anyone I've ever known."

After Graham arrived at OU, he revamped the college's curriculum, oversaw a $33 million facility renovation and expansion, and introduced an architecture-construction science studio model he developed at Texas A&M.  

He also launched other interdisciplinary programs that led to winning OU student entries in regional, national and international competitions.

In 2015 Graham was named one of the nation’s 25 “most admired” design professionals by the Design Futures Council, a global network of designers, academics and students.

"Dean Graham richly deserves this national recognition," said OU president David Boren after the award was announced. "He has made an immeasurable contribution to the strength of the College of Architecture." 

Graham, a Fellow in the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, also served two-terms as president of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Institute of Architects, bolstering the group’s Honor Awards program, creating a publications committee to advance AIA interests and representing the profession before the Oklahoma legislature.

His scholarly interests focused on residential design and construction, sustainable construction, alternative construction delivery systems, and building failure analysis with an emphasis on moisture intrusion studies.

An expert in forensic architecture — the use of scientific methods to investigate structural weaknesses — Graham investigated more than 8,000 buildings in 15 states, four Canadian provinces and seven nations.

Graham earned a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Sciences at Texas A&M in 1988, a Master of Arts in Environmental Management and Urban Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1978 and a Bachelor of Architecture degree at Texas Tech in 1974. 




posted February 16, 2016