Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Richard Stamps honored for preservation leadership
|Richard Stamps receives the Earl Borden Award for Preservation Leadership at a Rochester Hills City Council meeting in May. (Photo courtesy of the Rochester Hills Historic Districts Commission)|
This May, Oakland University associate professor of anthropology Richard Stamps was awarded the Earl Borden Award for Preservation Leadership by the Rochester Hills Historic Districts Commission. The award, named for the city’s first mayor, honors Stamps’ contributions to preserving the history of the Rochester Hills area and beyond.
“At first meeting, Dr. Stamp's calm and stoical demeanor may mask the true passion he has for preservation. However, he's helped discover, map, educate and connect us to our heritage,” said Melinda Hill, chairman of the Rochester Hills Historic Districts Commission.
John Dziurman, a preservation architect who also serves on the Rochester Hills Historic Districts Commission, said, “Very few people deserve the Earl Borden Leadership Award as much as Dr. Richard Stamps. He has provided a gentle but powerful voice for preservation.”
Stamps has been a professor at OU for 32 years and serves on the Oakland County Historical Commission. His continuing involvement in local historic preservation activities includes helping orchestrate the upcoming move of the Griggs grain elevator, which has stood at the intersection of University Drive and Water Street in downtown Rochester since 1880.
The land on which the elevator currently sits was recently purchased by a developer, Frank Rewold and Sons, who donated the elevator to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society. The land will be the site of a new residential community for senior citizens, and the elevator will be relocated to a permanent home on the Clinton River just east of Rochester Road.
“Through his words and actions Richard has taught me and thousands of others the relationship and importance of above and below ground archeology,” said Dziurman.
Dziurman continued, “I have learned from him that if we are to understand and conserve the essence of past lifeways so that present and future generations may experience and benefit from them, more must be preserved than empty building shells. Life must be put into those buildings by gaining appreciation of how they came to be, what influences determined their form, how they were used and what other artifacts complemented them. With archeology we are able to make our historic resources into living viable entities."
The elevator’s move, set to occur later this year, will be documented by The History Channel’s show “Mega Movers.”
The Earl Borden Award is far from Stamps’ first. In 2002, he received the Honorary Alumnus Award from the OUAA. He was recognized with OU's Teaching Excellence Award in 1986 and the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities Distinguished Faculty Award in 1987.
Stamps has received more than 40 funded contracts to perform archaeological surveys for the state, including directing the acclaimed archaeological investigations at the boyhood home of Thomas Edison in Port Huron.
Stamps’ work is not always been appreciated. Suggesting preservation in the face of development, Stamps admits he has gotten more than a few eye rolls in his day. The biggest affront to his efforts came after bones were discovered at an Oakland County construction site. Stamps was called in to the location and identified the site as a 900-year-old Native American burial ground. After a court battle over the ownership of the bones, Stamps had a curse put on him by a medicine man.
Fluent in Mandarin, Stamps specializes in the archeology and anthropology of China. He will spend the summer on sabbatical there, researching the work of Leonard Woodcock, former president of the United Auto Workers Union and first U.S. ambassador to China.
As part of the Oakland University delegation of Oakland County's Automation Alley (now the Great Lakes Interchange), in 2002 Stamps traveled to China with Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Virinder Moudgil, SEHS Dean Mary Otto and Executive Events Consultant Joy James Williams to meet with leaders of various universities and businesses throughout the country to forge global partnerships.
He also coordinates Oakland’s Chinese Language and Culture Immersion Program, an intensive five-week course at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing, and has guided hundreds of OU students and alumni on trips to China and Tibet.
Stamps is a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Assembly, the International Studies Executive Committee, and serves as faculty adviser for OU’s China Club, Archeology Club and the Latter Day Saint Student Association. He is director of the archeology concentration within the sociology and anthropology major and chairs the Campus Development and Environment Committee of the Oakland University Senate.
This is the second year in a row that the Earl Borden Award for Preservation Leadership has gone to an OU-affiliated honoree. In 2005, efforts to revive the Meadow Brook Greenhouse, built in 1914 for OU founder Matilda Dodge Wilson, were recognized. The greenhouse stands adjacent to John Dodge House on the campus of Oakland University.