March 2019 Alumni and Friends Newsletter
I’m incredibly optimistic that the University of Idaho’s Diversity Plan, reinstated this spring, will not only grow a unique student body and workforce, but will also bolster our culture of inclusivity once those diverse groups walk through our doors. The College of Art and Architecture is working on its own plan to help meet the university’s goals, and though we’re proud of our existing commitment to diversity and inclusivity, we’re energized about growth opportunities, too.
Idaho is the fastest growing state in the nation, and Boise’s population is increasing at an especially rapid rate as a more diverse group of people start calling the Treasure Valley home. In line with the university’s land-grant mission to offer accessible education to as many qualified students as possible, we’re excited to tap into southern Idaho’s population boom and expand our undergraduate offerings in architecture, interior design and landscape architecture at our Boise-based Urban Design Center in fall 2019. Once students complete their coursework there, they transfer to Moscow to experience a residential campus and finish their degrees. I’m hopeful that expanding our statewide presence will help diversify our college.
Our assortment of international faculty, from nearly all the corners of the globe, also contribute to our diverse college culture. Associate Professor of Architecture Xiao Hu, who’s from Chongqing, China, travels annually with students to explore his country’s rich architectural legacy and investigate the radical transformation of China’s built environment in the globalization era. Over the past three decades, China has undergone the largest and fastest urban developments in human history. Between 2011 and 2013, the country consumed more cement than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century. This fast-paced growth and China’s pursuit of sustainable development provide many lessons and learning opportunities for students. They visit design firms, landmark buildings and world heritage sites while actively engaging with Chinese students and faculty on a joint urban design project. They gain diverse design perspectives, strong awareness of global practice and new design inspirations — and when they return to Moscow, they help us build that culture of inclusivity we’re striving for.
Roberto Cappeci and Raffaella Sini, two of our landscape architecture faculty members from Italy, also lead an annual study abroad trip. Students learn about the country's rich landscapes, architecture, ecology, art and culture while visiting a number of sites.
In our Art + Design Program, Associate Professor Casey Doyle is also promoting a culture of inclusivity — on campus and around the region — by serving as the faculty advisor for U of I’s Gender Sexuality Alliance student organization. Casey has one of his sculptures installed in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone Park through September as part of the city’s Arts Current Program, and the intent of his work is to elevate dialogue about LGBTQ rights.
I’m hopeful our diversity will continue to grow and our culture of inclusivity will flourish. With both Jaap Vos, the head of our Bioregional Planning and Community Design Program, and Casey serving as members on the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and with Rula Awwad-Rafferty, the head of our Interior Design Program serving as a committee co-chair, our plan will surely be realized. Rula plays an instrumental role in assessing the campus climate and making recommendations for improvement university-wide. She’s also the chair of the college’s Diversity Committee, and I know she’ll help create a robust diversity plan, with faculty, staff and student input, that we’ll complete this year.
We could also use your help meeting our goals — specifically by spreading the word about our Summer Design Days camp from June 27-30. This event allows high school students to visit the Moscow campus and learn the foundations of design while immersing themselves in studio culture. Since we use this event, in part, as a recruitment tool, we’re hopeful more diversity during summer workshops will translate to more diversity in our freshman class, when those students choose us to pursue their design education.
You could also support Summer Design Days by offering financial support on Vandal Giving Day, April 2-3, when the college — and university as a whole — will be raising money for its programs. We have a specific fund for Summer Design Days scholarships, which helps students in need of financial aid.
Thank you for your sustained efforts in supporting our mission for a more diverse and inclusive College of Art and Architecture. Please stay tuned for our progress.
Shauna Corry, Ph.D.
College of Art and Architecture