Indiana University’s (IU) proposal for a Master of Architecture program in Columbus took a step toward approval with IU reaching a six-point agreement with Ball State University over potential competitive concerns, The Republic reports.
If approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education at its March 9 meeting, the program would initially bring about 20 graduate students to study in Columbus, said Lauren Robel, IU provost and executive vice-president. The program would likely start in the fall of 2018, with as many as 40 students enrolled in subsequent years, she said.
The proposed three-year program would be administered at the IU Center for Art + Design (IUPUI) in Columbus, with students using the city and its more than 65 examples of Modern architecture as a living lab.
“I’m very encouraged,” Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop said. “At the end of the day, I think we’re going to have a collaboration between the two universities that will serve as an example for others.”
Lienhoop was among a six-member local delegation that attended the commission’s work session at the Indianapolis IUPUI campus.
Ball State University began raising concerns in fall regarding how the program would effect its longstanding architecture program. However, BSU Provost Marilyn Buck said no further objections would be raised if both universities abide by the agreement.
What Buck emphasized during her questioning by commission members is that IU has agreed not to establish an undergraduate architecture program on any of its campuses.
The Bloomington-based university has also agreed to offer the master’s program exclusively in Columbus, and not attempt to provide related online courses, Buck said.
While those points addressed territorial concerns, the rest of the agreement focused largely on how the two universities can collaborate and share resources.
Broad concepts include allowing Ball State to offer architectural classes at the IUPUI campus, as well as future joint programming and joint facility access, Buck said.
“These are just concepts at this time,” Buck told the commission. “We don’t have a lot of details right now.”
What might be most unique for Bartholomew County is the proposed establishment of a joint architectural research center in Columbus, as well as an architectural archives facility.
Enthusiastic support for both proposed facilities was expressed by Buck and Robel.
During the hour-long discussion, the only commissioner who expressed reservations about implementing the proposed program in Columbus was at-large member Allan Hubbard.
Due to efficiencies achieved through computer technology, universities are now producing more architects than are needed, Hubbard said.
“I’m concerned that adding another architectural school might be a waste of resources,” said Hubbard, an Indianapolis business owner who headed the U.S. National Economic Council during the President George W. Bush administration.
In response, both Robel and Buck said the proposed school in Columbus is intended to provide a distinctive set of skills that are much in demand nationally.
The provosts quoted an outlook from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that indicates demand for the proposed school’s graduates will grow by 20.3 percent statewide over the next five years.
The national demand is expected to grow by 7 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Robel during the presentation.
In addition, Buck said there is virtually no unemployment among those who have graduated from similar programs at other universities.
Lienhoop, who said Ball State places 93 percent of its architectural graduates, said he was impressed with both the knowledge and the unity of purpose that both provosts displayed.
“The universities themselves agree this particular program is worthwhile,” Lienhoop said.