December 5, 2002

Trustees Hear Architecture Students' Opinions at Talk

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As the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) faculty vote this week on proposals to realign the college, AAP students attended an open forum held by the Board of Trustees yesterday evening in Sibley Hall to offer their feedback on the process.

“Because this is such a deliberative process, we wanted to make sure students were engaged all throughout it,” said Funa Maduka ’04, student-elected trustee.

President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Provost Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin’s July proposal to dissolve the University’s smallest college has been met with much student opposition.

“The University doesn’t understand that the three fields are intrinsically related,” said Ben Rockey-Harris ’04, AAP representative to the Student Assembly. “Dissolving the college would do more harm than good.”

Rawlings and Martin cited a lack of “intellectual and academic integration” as the key motivation for the proposed dissolution, mentioning also in a memo sent to college department chairs that the dissolution “could thereby realize administrative and budgetary savings.”

According to Prof. Peter Stein, physics, a faculty-elected trustee, the administration came to this conclusion based on an analysis that found that AAP students take fewer intra-college courses outside their major department than students in any other college other than the School of Hotel Administration.

This semester Rawlings asked AAP faculty members to prepare proposals for ways to improve the college.

This week, faculty members will vote on five proposals, prepared by the Faculty/Staff Realignment Committee, which range from completely dissolving the college to keeping it intact. One proposal calls for the creation of a College of Architecture and sends the departments of City and Regional Planning (CRP) and Art to other colleges.

The Faculty Senate will not consider this week’s faculty vote until its Feb. meeting. If faculty members choose to realign AAP, the Board of Trustees will consider the chosen proposal at their March meeting.

Trustees Ezra Cornell ’71, John Alexander ’74, Michael Esposito, an employee-elected trustee, Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 and Prof. Lisa Earle, plant breeding, joined Prof. Stein and Maduka to listen to students’ concerns about the realignment process.

Many students expressed frustration over their lack of knowledge about and involvement in the process.

“The process has entirely excluded students,” said Melissa Burns grad. “Our education is not on the agenda at all.”

Many students supported making changes to each department’s curriculum to increase integration rather than realigning the structure of the college.

“I like the status quo,” Rockey-Harris said. “There is room for improvement but what we’re learning is related.”

According to Rockey-Harris, AAP alumni are strongly opposed to the dissolution proposal, since individuals in all three disciplines frequently interact in the real world.

While most students at the forum opposed dissolving the college, a few were more open-minded to the idea.

“Our faculty is telling us that the other departments are sucking our surplus of money from us,” one architecture student said during the forum. “So there may be advantages of dissolving the college for us.”

No public statement has been made confirming that the motivation behind the realignment proposal is to give the department of Architecture more resources, according to Prof. Stein.

“For better or worse, the intent is to make education better for undergraduates,” he said.

Archived article by Stephanie Hankin