Howard University Architecture Chair Hazel Ruth Edwards, Ph.D., FAICP, Appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts

Architecture Chair Hazel R. Edwards, Ph.D.

Howard University Department of Architecture Chair Hazel Ruth Edwards, Ph.D., FAICP will be appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Joseph Biden. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) was established by Congress in 1910 as a permanent body to advise the federal government on matters pertaining to the arts and national symbols, and to guide the architectural development of Washington, D.C. The seven-member body is appointed by the President to serve four-year terms; new appointees are not subject to Senate review.

“This is indeed an honor, and I am so proud to be one of the four Howard architecture alumni to serve in this capacity. Alumna Jeannine Smith Clark (B.A. '50) was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve on the CFA from 1992 - 1996. Alumnus and Dean Emeritus Harry G. Robinson, III, FAIA was appointed by President William Clinton and served from 1994 to 2003, as the Vice Chairman from 1995 to 2002, and as Chairman from 2002–2003. Alumnus and Professor Edward D. Dunson, Jr. was appointed to the CFA by President Barack Obama and served from 2015 to 2019. The late Mr. Phillip Freelon, FAIA, who was a James E. Silcott Chair in 2011, served on the CFA from 2012–2016 and as Vice Chairman from 2015–2016. Mr. Peter Cook, one of the four new appointees, also served as a Silcott Chair in 2011,” said Dr. Edwards.

Since her days as a student at Howard University, Dr. Edwards has been a strong advocate for increasing diverse voices impacting design and planning outcomes. The extensive work she has accomplished throughout her career only displays her passion for enhancing community engaged architecture in a way that serves the public.

Dr. Edwards was the first black student to be accepted into the Ph.D. in regional planning program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the first Carolina Minority Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing her Ph.D. and postdoctoral programs, Dr. Edwards accepted an offer from Howard University to conduct research on the historical physical development of the Howard University campus, her first of many substantial projects at her alma mater. This first project resulted in her co-authoring the book, The Long Walk: The Placemaking Legacy of Howard University (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, 1996). Dr. Edwards has served in various capacities throughout her career, such as the founding director for the Master of City and Regional Planning program at The Catholic University of America, and later for the Bachelor of City and Regional Studies. 

As the first female architecture chair at Howard University, Dr. Edwards has been involved in many projects, such as her current research for one of two space technology research institutes selected by NASA in 2019. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the project as well as the American Institute of Certified Planners Committee of Fellows and recently began her three-year term on the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Alumni Council. She is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and was elected to their College of Fellows (FAICP) in 2018.

Her invitations as a guest lecturer, panelist, and juror remain consistent. In 2019, Dr. Edwards served as chair of the Montgomery County Planning Department 2019 Design Excellence Award Jury. The purpose of the award is to honor projects that reflect the best and most exceptional urban design, architecture and landscape architecture that support greater quality of life, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.

A long-time D.C. resident, Dr. Edwards brings a diverse and multi-faceted perspective to the commission. Dr. Edwards and fellow appointee architect Billie Tsien will join an illustrious group of women who have served since the first woman was appointed in 1955, comprising less than a quarter of all members. Together with their male counterparts, Peter Cook and Justin Garrett Moore, they are the most diverse set of new CFA appointments.

Read the press releases:

Howard Newsroom

White House


The Washington Post


Alumni, Architecture and College of Engineering and Architecture