RDG Pledges Major Gift to UNL College of Architecture

February 21, 2020

The “Create Meaning Together” Fellows Program reflects the firm’s commitment to investing in the next generation of design leaders.

RDG Planning & Design has contributed an endowed gift to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Architecture to establish the “Create Meaning Together” Fellows Program in honor of retired RDG Principal John Birge. A founding principal, Birge retired in 2018 after more than 40 years of service to the firm.

This new program, designed to build leadership skills among students using the Gallup CliftonStrengths Talent Assessment Program, focuses on each student’s strengths to maximize their potential and develop their talents so they can become more effective, emerging professionals. Implementation of the program is scheduled for the upcoming fall semester in one of the college’s fourth-year collaborate studios. These discipline-blended courses represent the college’s three allied undergraduate programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design, simulating a firm-like, cooperative environment.

Course students and faculty will take the Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment at the beginning of the semester to discover their top five strengths and receive strengths-based coaching from UNL College of Business students, John Birge, RDG leaders and Lori Stohs, founder and consultant with Lori Stohs Consulting Group. These coaching sessions will help students understand their results and how their strengths can empower them to be better leaders, collaborators, co-workers and designers.

“Funding this fellows program, which supports the elevation of collaboration and design thinking into the business aspects of architecture, was a no-brainer for RDG. Our investment in the success of aspiring designers and the future leadership of firms is critical not only to our profession but to the community at large. These individuals will be designing the spaces of our collective future; by supporting them, we’re empowering the next generation to dream big, to transform lives and ultimately, to create a better world,” said RDG Managing Principal John Sova, AIA.

As part of RDG’s philanthropic culture, retiring or transitioning founding principals are given the opportunity to select a higher educational institution of their choice to receive an endowment level gift. Birge and College of Architecture Dean Katherine Ankerson envisioned the program as a valuable addition to the fourth-year studio curriculum.

“This fellowship program is a way we can become engaged in the leadership process, helping students to become more cognizant of who they are and more aware of how they’re wired. Knowing these strength traits will help students to become better collaborators with the different allied disciplines and will provide a pathway to incorporate all those tools within the workplace,” said Birge.

Read UNL’s full announcement about the “Create Meaning Together” Fellows Program.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director