Judson Takes Architecture Program to Next Level with Restructuring

Article excerpt

Byline: Megan Gessler Daily Herald Correspondent

Judson College's burgeoning architecture program - one of only four or five offered at Christian colleges in the country - is getting redesigned.

The college will break ground on a new $1.4 million interim building this month, the curriculum is being restructured into Judson's first graduate degree and the department is doubling its full-time staff.

"This is definitely a milestone for the college and the department," said James Tew, Judson's director of communications.

Started just two years ago, the popular program now boasts more than 50 students, with another class of 30 to 40 anticipated in the fall. And with Notre Dame the only other Christian college offering an architecture major in the area, Judson officials expect interest in the program to remain high.

Still, despite the sweeping changes planned, John Hopkins, director of department, said the philosophy of the program will not waver.

"Despite all this, we're never going to be a large school - and that's the way we want to keep it," he said, emphasizing that he hopes to keep the enrollment under 200. "The intimate relationship, the attention given to students is part of the Judson experience."

What's in a name

The "new" graduate program in architecture is really no different from its undergraduate predecessor, according to Hopkins.

Just as before, the college's master's degree in architecture requires 189 credit hours of coursework over 10 or 11 semesters, Hopkins said.

Before, however, it was poorly named.

Since undergrad degrees typically represent four years of coursework, not five to 5 1/2 years, Hopkins said reclassifying it was a logical move.

"By packaging it as a graduate degree we're calling it what it actually is," he said. "It's really graduate-level instruction the final year."

The college had extra incentive to take this route after a Texas college cleared a path and set a precedent by switching its five-year bachelor's degree in architecture to a master's degree, without bolstering graduation requirements.

Arts and drafts

A liberal arts college, Judson's architecture major - which is in the art, design and architecture department - very much reflects the institution.

Along with core courses, architecture majors must take extra math, history and philosophy class, and many other interdisciplinary offerings. …