School of Architecture department chair candidate holds open forum for students, staff

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

SIU’s School of Architecture is conducting an internal search for a new department chair.  

The current department chair, John Dobbins, is retiring at the end of the fall semester. 

The only candidate, faculty member Craig Anz, gave a verbal presentation on Nov. 13 followed by a question and answer session to faculty, staff and students. 

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Some of the topics discussed included increasing enrollment, working with students and professors, funding and increasing professors’ knowledge of the topics they teach. 

“It is important that we move forward and that we keep in mind that we’re part of a greater university,” Anz said. “A greater university has a vision.”

Anz spoke about his experience as a student and how he wants students to graduate SIU with good memories that will stick with them. 

“I went to Texas A&M,” Anz said. “I remember the experiences I had at Texas A&M that will stay with me the rest of my life.” 

Anz also talked about how successful other schools are compared to SIU and what the college needs to do to be successful when it comes to enrollment. 

“We used a program at Virginia Commonwealth that was the number one assessment program in the nation,” Anz said. “We had a program that allowed the students to play a role in their curriculum.” 

Some students who attended the forum said they felt some of Anz’s points were confusing and he didn’t say anything that would help with the problems the school is currently facing. 

“I was lost for a lot of the presentation,” Grace Whittington, a junior studying interior design, said. “He was talking about really big conceptual ideas, and while that is wonderful and great for the overarching theme, I thought that was all the presentation was.” 

Sina Maiberger, a junior studying fashion design, said she felt Anz had big ideas but didn’t really talk about a plan of how to achieve them. 

“He gave a goal, but no realistic steps to achieve it,” Maiberger said. 

The programs in the School of Architecture include Fashion Design and Merchandising, Architecture and Interior Design. 

Some of the students said the faculty in their programs do not have the knowledge required to teach the classes. 

“On the architecture side of things, we have three faculty that just do not know any programs on the computer whatsoever,” Alyssa Reese, a senior studying architecture, said. 

The students said they feel that they are expected to know what needs to be done without proper instructions from their professors. 

“We have teachers in the fashion program who are really good, and then we have other teachers who have no clue what they’re doing, no clue what they’re teaching,” Maiberger said. “I’m pretty sure they don’t understand the material, and the book that was three bucks is more useful.”

Anz was asked by one student about his specific plans to boost enrollment at the School of Architecture. 

“We need to work with the university,” Anz said. “We just hired a new enrollments officer, and she is in multi-level enrollment engagement.”

The students said another problem for many of the programs is a lack of funding. Many of the materials students use are outdated. 

“We do occasionally get updated things,” Whittington said. “We have a new 3D printer that we just got, but a lot of the times they try to just stick within the range of what we already have instead of looking to expand on that.” 

One concern students addressed with Anz was former Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s reorganization plan.  

Anz said he had a very close relationship with the former chancellor and he supports continuing with the reorganization.  

A student asked how Anz plans to move forward with Montemagno’s idea, and why he thinks people were unhappy with his plan. 

“We have a history here at SIU of taking every leader that comes into this place and beating the crap out of them,” Anz said. “Chancellor Montemago made a mistake in putting out what we receive as a hard plan.”

Anz said he thinks the university perceived the late chancellor’s reorganization plan as a hard plan instead of a stepping off point for discussion.  

“They also jumped on something that was completely false,” Anz said. “They jumped on the creation of a new school of homeland security […] it already exists. They beat the crap out of everyone that comes here, they even drove him to his death. He worked hard until the moment he died.” 

Everyone present was asked to fill out a candidate evaluation form. The decision will go to the School of Architecture faculty for a vote, according to the College of Applied Sciences and Arts operating paper

The candidate must receive a majority faculty vote before the dean can appoint a new director.

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BethanyRentfro.

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