Photo of Tom Tillman (second from left) with members of the Auburn University Planning Department.

Tom Tillman (second from left) with members of the Auburn University Planning Department.

Tom Tillman — Staff, Retired

Auburn University, Auburn, AL 

Tom Tillman has served as the Director of University Planning for over 10 years in a career at Auburn that included over two decades of planning work. Tom has just recently retired, but continues to be an active member of the Auburn family that has been a member of for more than 50 years. In his decades of work on campus, Tom has collaborated in the planning, design, construction, and renovation of many of the buildings that make up the physical “heart” of Auburn University. As a recipient who truly embodies the Auburn Spirit of Sustainability, we recognize his efforts, in particular, as the key driver in developing the Comprehensive Campus Master Plan.

The Comprehensive Campus Master Plan (CCMP) is one of the core documents that set the course for the future of the university, specifically focusing on the future goals and aspirations for the built environment, the connections for transportation and movement, and how both interact with the natural landscape that Auburn’s campus occupies.

Many attempts at developing a planning attempts had existed over the history of the campus, but it was through Tom’s leadership that the the Auburn community created the first CCMP to be approved by the University Board of Trustees in 2002. Tom pushed the campus community through a collaborative process to think systemically. His challenged the participants to think beyond the scope of any single building project, to develop a long term vision for the campus infrastructure that recognized the campus not only as a functioning and mission oriented institution, but also a living, thriving system.

Sustainability ideas and actions were at the core of that original plan and the subsequent updates and Auburn’s CCMP was the first official university guiding document to holistically touch on the need for sustainable consideration of:

  • Transportation
  • Landscape
  • Building sites, building types
  • Alternative Energy use
  • Reducing water waste
  • Revitalizing natural systems

Those concepts have thrived and continued to expand through two updates, and Auburn’s planning community is presently coordinating the third update to the CCMP. Started under Tom’s leadership, this current update has been a truly collaborative process with more than 500 participants from the campus and community that will go even implement sustainable concepts in campus landscape improvement and maintenance, the restoration and preservation of Parkerson Mill Creek, and the stewardship/management of natural resources on the 1,800 acre main campus.

Tom’s leadership shaped over a decade of campus development, and set the foundation for sustainability as a valuable core component of University life.