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‘He was one of those unstoppable people’: Architecture faculty remember professor John Stamper

| Friday, January 14, 2022

When news of associate dean and professor of architecture John Stamper’s death broke last week, dean of the Notre Dame School of Architecture Stefanos Polyzoides’s son-in-law, who graduated in 1992, wrote to Polyzoides about how he still remembers his fifth year review with Stamper and the feedback he received during it.

“[Stamper’s] reputation was about a person that was on their side, that was serious and critical of their work because architecture is a discipline that is taught by criticism, but he was fair and open and helpful,” Polyzoides said.

Stamper passed away Jan. 5, but continued to work up until the final days of his life. Having taught at the Notre Dame School of Architecture since 1984 and served as associate dean for 18 years, Stamper had a massive workload but never failed to keep up with it, Polyzoides said.

As an associate dean and professor, Stamper managed full administrative, publication and teaching loads. He served on a host of University committees, wrote a number of books including some close to publication at the time of his death and taught history courses to architecture students at the undergraduate and graduate level in addition to teaching one studio per semester.

“He was one of those unstoppable people,” Polyzoides said.

Adjunct associate professor of the practice at the School of Architecture Marianne Cusato first met Stamper as a student in the graduating class of 1997 and later joined the faculty, becoming his colleague.

“He was a giant in the school,” Cusato said. “He was somebody that every student that has passed through this building over the course of the last 40 years had him. It’s really extraordinary to have somebody that influenced so many people.”

While Cusato was an architecture student, Stamper was the director of the Rome Studies Program — in which architecture students spend the third year in school in Rome — a role Stamper held from 1990 to 1999.

Cusato said Stamper easily garnered the respect of students because they knew he respected them.

“He was somebody that knew his stuff, but he was also very, very kind in how he communicated, which is an amazing combination,” she said. 

As a colleague, Stamper was an experienced and knowledgeable professor that was always willing to offer help, Cusato said. 

“He was fantastic because he was also mentoring to those of us that were younger on the faculty and coming up and someone who you could run your syllabus by him and he would take a look at it and offer really, really good concrete suggestions on how you’d make it better,” she said. 

With his extensive teaching experience and research, Stamper possessed a wide breadth of knowledge that allowed him to offer a seemingly unlimited supply of engaging conversations, Cusato said. 

“We’d be at dinner and I kind of felt like I needed to have a notebook,” she said. “It was so fun to talk to him about these things.”

Although Stamper appeared to be a very quiet and unassuming professor, Cusato said he possessed a sharp sense of humor.

“He was always on point,” she said. “He just had an amazing sense of humor and always, always caught the nuance of whatever the conversation was.”

Polyzoides said Stamper’s dedication to his students, his experience in the field, his tremendous work ethic and willingness to help other made him a true leader in the school who will be dearly missed.

“John was the perspective with a capital ‘P’ of the school,” he said. “He was our perspective.”

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall who hails from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in business analytics and minoring in constitutional studies. He currently serves as an associate news editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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