Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture is celebrating its 50-year anniversary on campus this November.
While the discipline has existed on campus since 1905, the College of Architecture was not founded until 1969. This November marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the college, which today includes the departments of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning, construction science and visualization. The college is hosting a number of events throughout the month, including the upcoming Celebration of Learning event this Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. that will include various panels put on by faculty on topics such as sustainability, heritage conservation and visualization, said Dawn Jourdan, executive associate dean of the College of Architecture.
“The Day of Learning is meant to showcase the knowledge in certain areas as it was 50 years ago and as it will be in 50 years,” Jourdan said. “[The panels] are being held by some of our outstanding faculty, many of whom are doing important research in all of those areas.”
The Outstanding Alumni Awards Banquet that will be honoring several former students will begin at 6:30 p.m. The college will also be hosting a tailgate party before the football game against the University of South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 16. All of the college’s current students, former students, faculty and staff are invited to attend these events, Jourdan said.
The College of Architecture is not only celebrating 50 years of existence on campus this month, but it is also celebrating all of the past achievements made by each of the College’s students, faculty and staff. The College now has five world-class research centers and three institutes, as well as two community development programs: Texas Target Communities and the Colonias Program.
Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture, said the Colonias Program is a Texas legislative mandate that includes 42 community resource centers the college works with along the Texas-Mexico border. The program focuses on improving disadvantaged communities in terms of health, education, economic development and the physical environment.
The College of Architecture has seen a major increase in graduates over the past 50 years. The first graduating class from the college had only 119 students, while this past May, 916 students graduated from the college. It has also expanded in terms of its physical presence. When the college was originally founded, there was only one building: Langford Building C. Today, the college is spread among the three-building Langford complex, Scoates Hall, Francis Hall, the RELLIS campus and offices in Bryan. Dean Vanegas, who is the longest-standing dean at the university in number of terms served, said the college has also seen an expansion of its gender and discipline diversity.
“Disciplines in our field move around, but our college is very solid in structure,” Vanegas said. “Today, we have four departments but are responsible for sixteen academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level.”
Jourdan said the main focus of this year’s anniversary celebration is on returning to the college’s origins. This includes prioritizing interdisciplinary teaching and research. At the beginning of the college’s history, all students within the college shared a common first-year, meaning all students took the same classes together. Over the years, there has been a shift away from that due to practicalities with larger enrollment numbers. However, Jourdan said the college is looking to return to that idea in order to broaden student’s learning experiences.
“We want to encourage and incentivize efforts for faculty to teach across the programs, for students to engage in outreach and competitive activities across the disciplines,” Jourdan said.
This also includes a plan to engage in a capital campaign to build a new building for the college, Jourdan said. This new building would aim to bring the college’s current students, faculty and staff together by including classrooms, teaching spaces, study spaces, faculty offices and research labs.
With over 16,000 living former students, research projects and community programs, Vanegas said the college has a lot to celebrate this month.
“I am very proud of what we’re doing,” Vanegas said. “We consider ourselves a haven of arts and creativity. Through the work of our students, faculty, staff and all of our academic programs, we have one common denominator: we strive to provide the highest quality of life for all individuals, families and communities.”