International Landscape Architect Paul Comstock named 2013 Graduation Speaker for UCLA Extension Certificate Ceremony

Paul Comstock 2013 Graduation Keynote Speaker

More than 2,000 to receive professional certificates June 25 marking continued value for career advancement.

Former UCLA Extension student Paul Comstock, an internationally acclaimed landscape architect and designer whose three decades of work have left behind striking scenes at popular theme parks and museums around the globe, will be the featured speaker and special honoree at Extension’s annual certificate graduation ceremony on June 25 at Royce Hall.

The annual ceremony marks continued strong enrollments in certificate programs at UCLA Extension, and across the country, as working professionals – led by Generation X – realize the financial advantages and career necessities to expanding their formal education at recognized institutions.

“Investing in your career through continuing high education pays long-term dividends.  In many ways, Paul Comstock represents the result many seek in terms of accomplishments. He also epitomizes many of the virtues we see in our students: A thirst for learning, the excitement of discovery and a quest for being innovative,” said Michelle Stiles, Interim Dean of UCLA Extension and Continuing Education.  “We are pleased to have Paul bring his incredible story of success and his own examples of continuing education to our graduation ceremony.”

Comstock, who earned his professional certificate in landscape architecture from UCLA Extension in 1988, is perhaps best known for the intricate and dazzling theme park and resort landscapes he created while working at Walt Disney Imagineering for about 16 years.

Among his many credits, Comstock was chief landscape architect and designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, in Orlando, Florida, which recreates the natural beauty and wonder of the animal-rich environments of Africa and Asia. As project-wide director of landscape design for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Comstock designed the landscapes for hotels, a regional park, an arboretum, roadways and the newest Disneyland theme park.

Comstock’s success is due in large part from making botanical expeditions to more than 70 countries. During these travels, he located, collected and brought back live, stunning, and rare specimens of the plant kingdom for the purpose of authenticating the environments he was charged with creating. Some of these uniquely spectacular plants can be found at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he has been involved in seven projects over 35 years.

Another example of Comstock’s recent creativity is found at Los Angeles Dodger Stadium, where he not only designed landscape enhancements but also was instrumental in the new master plan of the stadium.

Today, he is president of Comstock Landscape Architecture, a landscape architecture and planning practice serving professional sports stadiums, resorts, theme parks, zoological habitat and residential arboreta.

Continuing Education a Critical Choice

More than 2,000 students will receive professional certificates from UCLA Extension in 2013. This numberconfirms a recent national study that certificates are the fastest growing form of postsecondary credentials in the U.S. and another indicating that more than one out of every 10 Generation X members are actively engaged in a continuing education program.

This year’s certificate graduation ceremony also continues to highlight UCLA Extension’s growing global importance. Among this year’s certificate recipients will be hundreds of international students from nearly every continent: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.