Alumnus Rexford Newcomb was a professor of the history of architecture at the University of Illinois who served as the first dean of the newly organized College of Fine and Applied Arts from 1932 to 1954. Prior to joining Illinois, he taught at the University of Southern California and Texas A&M, where he was also college architect. Newcomb was a respected national authority on the history of architecture and was also passionate about the fine arts. During his lifetime, he undertook an ambitious project to collect photographs and data of significant buildings in the United States, which led to numerous publications. Newcomb was instrumental in establishing the university's Festivals of Contemporary Arts, which began in 1948. According to the Daily Illini, when Newcomb retired, five of his former pupils were deans of American schools of architecture—a fine illustration of his lasting legacy.