MSU Department of Landscape Architecture announces Spafford as new head

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Experienced landscape architect and educator Anne Spafford has been named head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Anne Spafford portrait
Anne Spafford (Submitted photo)

Spafford, who most recently was professor and associate department head of the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, has 25 years’ experience in higher education teaching and research.

Scott Willard, dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said Spafford’s unique expertise positions her as an ideal fit as professor and department head.

 “For nearly 70 years, the Department of Landscape Architecture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been a dynamic and enriching program,” Willard said. “Our program has gained momentum in recent years with its emphasis on delivering real-world design experience through the department’s cooperative internship requirements, class-led community service projects and the new 3D Land Lab. Professor Spafford’s teaching, research and business acumen will support the great initiatives already happening and propel future initiatives and partnerships going forward.” 

Spafford said she looks forward to many aspects of her new role.

“I am a facilitator and an advocate for others at my core, so I am thrilled to work with the faculty, staff and students in exploring how the department can evolve and set impactful future goals. I am also very interested in getting to know the alumni and other stakeholders to ensure we are meeting the needs of the design industry. I would like our graduates to be the most sought-after young professionals,” she said.

Spafford said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s recent designation of landscape architecture as a STEM career will help pave the way for renewed recruiting measures.

“The Department of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State is perfectly poised for excellence—the combination of seasoned faculty, new professors, plus the addition of two faculty in 2024, will create energy and forward momentum. I am excited to strategize with faculty about their vision for the department and move the department forward, while honoring the strengths of the past,” she said.

In addition to her teaching and research experience, Spafford has been owner and principal of Sprezzaterra Design Studio, focused on sustainable residential design. She has coauthored two books on ecological landscape design, including “Pollinator Gardens for the South: Creating Sustainable Habitats,” published by The University of North Carolina Press in 2021. She is active in several professional associations including the American Society of Landscape Architects, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Environmental Design Research Association and International Society for Horticulture Science, among others. She often lends editorial expertise to the organizations in which she serves, including as manuscript reviewer of the UIA World Congress of Architects 2023.

With a background in horticulture science, Spafford said she is excited her new department is housed in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture and her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She currently is a Doctor of Design candidate in the College of Design at North Carolina State University’s online program for mid-career professionals.

For more on MSU’s Department of Landscape Architecture in the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visit

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