He is a part of every architect to have had the extreme privilege to attend the University of Minnesota during his long and fruitful career as its head. I for one was "allowed" to go to school there. Raised and educated in the east (Wellesley and MIT), it was time for me to go beyond the confines of the classic New Yorker view of the USA and head beyond New York. In searching for a spot to transform my degree in Urban Design to one in Architecture the delightful gentleman and pioneering lady who was his wife (and both my employers and mentors) informed me that I could go to the U of MN, but only because Ralph was there.
Off I went and what a ride! Ralph called me (to the last time I saw him, two months ago) by my why-can't-I-outgrow-it nickname of "Muffet," watched over my progress and was throughout it all a challenge and support. I was surrounded by the then current practitioners of the day (still to my mind the best teachers of architecture, pardon academics - you have your place but in a limited role in architecture) and well as those who were to become the best practitioners of the next generation in Minnesota.
The most wonderful part of knowing Ralph was that he remembered us all as individuals. He kept in touch - my most treasured Christmas cards each year was always his, adorned with one of his sketches. He knew all of our weaknesses and all of our strengths.
I recently taught sciences at 2 Minnesota State Colleges & Universities and the U of MN. I was appalled to discover that the majority of my colleagues: 1) were intellectually ignorant of their scientific fields, and proud of not reading current scientific journals; 2) did not read anything, and were proud of it; 3) could not write complete sentences in English, needed for laboratory exercise directions and lecture notes; 4) were ignorant in general education (literature, history, politics, etc.)
I am particularly concerned, because MnSCU announces that it teaches ~75% of the future healthcare providers for Minnesota. How will these students learn the necessary information in their fields, let alone for citizenship, if their instructors are so deficient?