This semester, we’d like to put the spotlight on a few of Gibbs College of Architecture‘s (GCA) donors and supporters. Their gifts of time and financial resources to our programs are continuously changing lives, and, for that, we are so grateful.

Recently, we spoke to Lee Beckman about why he supports GCA. Lee is an alumnus of GCA’s undergraduate architecture program (2007), and he earned his master of science in environmental policy and sustainability management from The New School (2014). Today, Lee is a representative for MechoShade in Dallas, Texas, and throughout Oklahoma.

What has inspired your support of the GCA?

A consistent connection with the faculty and student body at the program, and seeing progress helped me focus on providing new options for student experiences.

What do you hope to support with your gift?

More experiences for the students. Every location offers new cultures, new ways of life, and new ideas towards challenges; my travel experience definitely helped me consider more perspectives on many topics.

What excites you most about current efforts/initiatives at the GCA?

Seeing the great response from the alumni and faculty and excitement for the next phase of the GCA. There’s a lot of opportunity ahead, and our program has evolved to draw in the talent and graduate a talented workforce.

What other causes are you most passionate about? How does the work of GCA relate to these causes?

I’d like to see Industrial Design find its way into the GCA. I almost took that route after working a few years post-graduation. It’s a good way to bridge engineering and design into different scales of work.

What type of legacy would you like to leave? How does your gift to the GCA help support this legacy?
A legacy, to me, means I’m remembered for doing something amazing or building something great. Time will tell, but every gift to the program provides more potential to each student, to their gifts, and to their confidence out in the real world.

We also asked Lee to tell us a bit about his time at OU and where he is now.

What are you most proud of from your time at OU and beyond?

The valuable relationships I have made with my class and faculty over the years. I studied abroad in Denmark, and that was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had so far.

What role are you in now? How did you arrive at your current role?

I’m a representative for MechoShade, helping designers optimize daylight management for buildings. I’ve been with Mecho for over seven years; I started there while living in NYC. I landed there while still in graduate school, but prior to this role, I didn’t know much about it. Many people don’t. It keeps me connected to a lot of designers and involved in many projects; it is such a unique field.

What was it like transitioning out of university and into work-life?

I was shocked about how much in taxes are taken out of a meager paycheck! That was my first wake-up call. The other was getting used to the grind; when starting out on your career path, you’ll work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day with few breaks. Most friends moved to different cities, so we kept a weekly email going which was a great way to stay in touch. I ended up being more active in the local chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in New York, and that gave me a lot more exposure in my field.

What advice would you give current students as they advance into their careers?

My advice to graduates is to learn your trade, learn more trades, and be professional and fair. Be open to different career paths along the way because you never know where you’ll end up.