The Enduring Legacy of Professor Eduard Sekler

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Professor Eduard Sekler in 2013 delivering a talk at Gund Hall in honor of the Carpenter Center’s 50th anniversary.

When Eduard Franz Sekler, Harvard University’s Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Art Emeritus and Professor of Architecture Emeritus at the Graduate School of Design, passed away last spring at the age of 96, the GSD community responded with an outpouring of letters in remembrance of the beloved educator, architect, scholar, and friend. “Professor Sekler was my intellectual ‘godfather’ during the year I spent as a Loeb Fellow,” wrote Carter Wiseman LF ’85. “A brilliant man, wonderful teacher, an inspiration to me, while being one of the kindest, gentlest souls I ever met,” wrote Ames Fender MArch ’86.

The many former students and colleagues whose lives and careers Professor Sekler influenced will always remember him as a gifted teacher and dedicated scholar. For those who did not know him personally, the GSD is honored to continue his legacy by welcoming the first Eduard Sekler Fellow to campus this fall through a new financial aid fund established in his name by former students.

The Eduard Sekler Fellowship Fund was started in 2005 with gifts from generous alumni seeking to honor their former teacher. This e­ffort, led by Michael F. “Mick” Doyle MArch ’77, who knew Professor Sekler as a student at the GSD and a teaching fellow at the Carpenter Center and worked with him at the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, has since received donations from more than 50 GSD alumni and friends. “The generosity of my fellow alumni is a powerful and moving tribute to Professor Eduard Sekler. I am thrilled that the Sekler Fellowship is now and will always be part of the GSD community, and I encourage alumni to continue to honor Professor Sekler’s unique talents with contributions to this financial aid award named in his memory,” said Doyle.

A significant contribution from one member of the Harvard community, Dr. Ellen Phoebe “Epi” Wiese PhD ’53, PhD ’59, ensured that the Eduard Sekler Fellowship Fund reached the level required to begin awarding funds to students and secured the Fellowship in perpetuity. An art history scholar, Dr. Wiese spent many years in Cambridge working as a lecturer in fine arts and maintaining an affiliation with the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, where Professor Sekler served as director from 1966 to 1976.

With Professor Sekler in mind, Dr. Wiese established a planned gift with the Graduate School of Design in 2005. The terms of the trust allowed Dr. Wiese to receive a portion of its value as annual income, with the balance going to support the Eduard Sekler Fellowship Fund upon her passing. She died in 2016.

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Professor Sekler with his wife, Pat, at the Grounded Visionaries campaign Launch, September 2014

Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, informed Professor Sekler and his wife, Dr. Mary Patricia “Pat” Sekler PhD ’73, that the Eduard Sekler Fellowship had become an active financial aid award last spring. The Seklers were pleased to learn that grateful students created the Fellowship in honor of Professor Sekler to aid future designers.

As the Fund endures and the community of Sekler Fellows grows, the Fellowship will be a lasting tribute to Professor Sekler’s decades of service and remarkable legacy at the GSD. The School looks forward to honoring him with a memorial lecture during the Fall 2017 Public Lecture Series. Interested alumni may still contribute to the Fund to honor the memory of Professor Sekler and to support future Eduard Sekler Fellows.