Professor Ashlie Latiolais is one of our 2021 Outstanding Master’s Mentor Award recipients. This award is presented by the Graduate School to members of the graduate faculty with an exceptional record of fostering the academic and professional development of graduate students, particularly for graduate students in our master’s degree programs.
Latiolais is an associate professor in the School of Architecture and Design, and serves as the graduate coordinator for the master of architecture program.
‘Individualized, compassionate, and uncompromised’
Kari Smith, professor and director of the School of Architecture and Design, remarks that Latiolais has “channeled her passion for professional practice to develop an innovative and inspirational graduate student mentorship approach that is individualized, compassionate, and uncompromised.”
In her design studios, “she has advanced the offerings of the Graduate Program through projects that contribute thousands of dollars to the community through service-learning,” Smith says.
Her design studios also have “boldly addressed issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, through project-based design competitions such as the National Organization for Minority Architecture Students competition for the Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation in collaboration with seven environmental and housing justice organizations for the greater Bay Area,” Smith notes.
John Welcher ‘15 says that Latiolais “brought a motivating and eye-opening level of discourse to the classroom.”
“She constantly challenged her students to expand their worldview or change the way they were approaching a problem. This would all be laudable enough if that were the extent of her actions, but true-to-form she also holds herself to the standards she asks of her students,” he adds.
From Student to Professional Peer
Latiolais has chaired nineteen master’s projects, and has served as a committee member for an additional twenty-one.
The master’s project “demands comprehensive thinking that focuses student research and theories and challenges them to define the potential impact of architecture on the world,” Latiolais says.
“I embrace the range of projects that students produce and support an intense variety of interests.”
The master’s project is also critical, Latiolais explains, “as a threshold, after which the student becomes a professional peer.”
Based on their graduate work, Latiolais’s students have co-authored published book chapters, participated in national research symposiums, and received honors from the School of Architecture and Design and the University.
“She pushed me to be my very best self, she believed fiercely in my potential, and because of her great influence, I have grown into a well-rounded, passionate and confident professional,” says Cathryn Core ‘16.
Katie Leleaux ‘17 notes that “Ashlie has been a prominent model of leadership, professionalism, and ambition, and always strives to develop inspiring relationships with others"
"I would not be the person I am today if it were not for the knowledge she installed in me, her love and dedication to the profession of architecture and her motivational spirit.”
Latiolais centers the importance of collegiality and community engagement in her mentorship of graduate students.
“A student's deep understanding of what they do and why they do it is critical to my pedagogy and for the choices students make within their academic careers,” Latiolais says.
“As an alumnus of the School of Architecture and Design, the ability to "think, act, and react," was instilled in me. This active approach is the foundation of my design process, my teaching, and mentorship.”