By Alyssa Davis
With the Michael Graves School of Architecture just months from holding its first classes, there is debate among faculty and administration about the need for the program.
Kean announced the additional program this past October and plans to open classes in Fall 2015. Shortly after Kean’s announcement, an article published by NJ.com stated that the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) views the new school of architecture to be “a wasteful duplication.”
NJIT, which is also a state-funded school, has its own school of architecture. Kean and NJIT are less than 10 miles apart, serving the same general area.
Richard Katz, Secretary for Kean’s Faculty Senate believes that the new program was put in place with Kean’s Wenzhou, China campus in mind.
“There is a clear need for architecture in China; it is not clear that the students in NJ need another architecture program,” Katz said.
Nine professors are needed to run the new program. Katz also questions whether or not this program will weigh-down on existing programs at Kean.
“Another issue is, will the resources that are going to this program diminish the resources for other existing programs?” Katz said.
Kean’s Faculty Senate submitted a list of 31 questions, which covered everything from the accreditation process to the set-up of the program itself, to David Mahoney, acting dean of the program. Mahoney failed to answer the questions.
The Tower attempted to interview Mahoney about the program, but he did not respond to emails. Although some question if the new program will prove to be successful, others believe whole-heartedly that the school of architecture will be an asset to the University.
“I believe that the University evolves according to the needs in our society,” said education professor and executive board member Patrick Ippolito in an e-mail. “We have to keep pace with the times. The School will be an asset to Kean as it will bring us an additional student population here and in China.”
Ippolito also commented on NJIT’s disapproval of Kean’s new architecture program.
“Many colleges in the state have duplicate programs, this does not mean one or more should have a monopoly,” he said. “Let the best survive. The fact that we have a world famous architect, although now deceased, feel strongly enough about our program to put his name on it should be an indication that we have a better than average chance for success.”
Michael Graves, the namesake of Kean’s School of Architecture, passed away on March 12 at the age of 80.
Although Kean anticipates the approval of the program, there is one more step in the process before it becomes official.
“The School of Arch. curriculum was approved by the Academic Issues Committee of the New Jersey President’s Council on April 10,” explained Kean’s spokeswoman Susan Kayne, later adding that the New Jersey President’s Council approved the program on April 27.
While faculty and administration debate over the benefits of the new program, Kean’s students also have varying views.
“There are not a lot of state schools that have architecture, there is NJIT but, it’s rather expensive,” said Erin Langan, who is studying Industrial Design but always planned on getting her masters in architecture. “Especially being backed by Michael Graves I think it will bring a lot more respect to the design program as well as the architecture program.”
Others are wary to support an additional program.
“I just wonder how this new program will affect tuition rates and school resources,” said senior psychology major Alyssa Dworzanski. “I feel that Kean should focus on supporting existing programs, rather than use funds and tuition money to create new ones.”
Regardless of faculty, administration or student opinions, it looks as though the Michael Graves School of Architecture will become the newest program at Kean University, as long as it receives the final approval.
The school is to be housed in the new Green Lane building, which also holds the Robert Busch School of Design.