PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTION

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1 PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTION Background: The proposed School of Construction is an outgrowth of discussions over more than two years between faculty in the Department of Building Construction and the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program. The primary participating departments and colleges are the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. Other departments or units, particularly the Pamplin College of Business, will be encouraged to participate in the School and ensure that activity crosses traditional boundaries to include all involved academic disciplines. Justification for Creation of a School: The principal justification for the establishment of a School of Construction at Virginia Tech is based on three overriding factors First: It is a diverse industry. Construction is a broad and diverse industry that does not rely on one particular academic discipline for the development of technical and managerial leadership. The proposed School of Construction makes it possible for programs and curricula in construction at Virginia Tech to span traditional boundaries (particularly those between architecture and engineering) and reflect the diversity of talent required for success in an industry that encompasses the facility life cycle, includes a complex supply chain and covers many sectors of the economy. Second: It is a multi faceted subject. Construction education and research is a broad and multi faceted subject that cannot rely on one particular academic discipline to develop and deliver world class education, research and outreach programs. The proposed School of Construction establishes a mechanism for faculty and students to work beyond their traditional boundaries and share in learning environments, research programs and academic life without the constraints and preconceptions of traditional departments. Third: It unites strength to build significance. The Department of Building Construction enjoys peer recognition as among the best construction programs based in Architecture. The Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program also enjoys acceptance among the best Civil Engineering based programs. Bringing two programs of this nature together in the proposed School of Construction will create a unique organization that spans the traditional academic disciplines of Architecture and Engineering. It will establish a new standard for construction education, research and outreach, confirm our reputation for innovation and creativity and place Virginia Tech among the undoubted top two or three programs in the world. Mission: The School will provide a unified identity for excellence in construction education, research and outreach within Virginia Tech, to the academic community and to the construction industry. 1

2 Our students will come first We will educate inquisitive values-based leaders, thinkers, and integrators able to succeed in all sectors of our industry by providing an education founded on technical, managerial, and practical knowledge. We will cross boundaries We will provide a critical mass of faculty and students to work across traditional boundaries and share learning environments, research, and academic life without the constraints and preconceptions of traditional departments. We will value discovery Our learning environments and research will be based on the needs of our industry, our communities and our society, without compromise in creativity and technical quality. We will shape our community We will partner with our industry to be the benchmark provider of knowledge and leadership and make construction a career of first choice. Goals and Objectives: Research and Scholarship The School will enhance Virginia Tech s stature as an internationally recognized university for research and scholarship. It will provide a broad base for competitively awarded research, and improve the rankings of graduate programs by establishing a coordinated faculty group that supports research and scholarship across the breadth of technical and managerial skills needed in a diverse and competitive construction industry. Graduate Education The School will administer and coordinate existing graduate degrees in construction (M.S. and Ph.D.) on behalf of the Department of Building Construction and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and will seek to establish a new Ph.D. degree in Construction. Graduate degrees will share a uniform structure with different lists of preparatory and required courses depending on the student s undergraduate background and college affiliation. The student application review process will be centralized with students advised by faculty according to their research interests, degree requirements and undergraduate background. Undergraduate Education Students wishing to obtain an undergraduate degree in construction at Virginia Tech currently register in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and obtain a BS degree in Building Construction (BS BC) or in the College of Engineering where they use the flexibility in the civil engineering curriculum to obtain a BS degree in Civil Engineering with coursework in construction. The School will seek to establish and obtain ABET accreditation for a new BS degree in Construction Engineering and Management (BS CEM) The existing BS in Building Construction degree will work in tandem with the proposed BS CEM degree and enable 2

3 Virginia Tech to recruit engineering students who wish to focus their careers in construction. The two undergraduate degrees will ensure that Virginia Tech is able to prepare students for success in the construction industry regardless of whether their backgrounds are in building construction or engineering, and will increase the number of graduates entering the industry. Students seeking the BS in Building Construction will be admitted through the College of Architecture and Urban Studies as at present and will complete the established and well recognized BS BC curriculum. Students seeking the proposed BS Construction Engineering and Management will be admitted through the College of Engineering and will complete a curriculum that includes the equivalent of five BC courses as capstone studio classes shared with BS Building Construction students. These capstone studio classes will use innovative methodologies to maximize learning, build appropriate skills in leadership, teamwork, and communication and ensure that construction students at Virginia Tech are prepared for success in an industry that does not rely on one particular academic discipline for the development of technical and managerial leadership. The administration of the BS Civil Engineering degree and its various tracks remains in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The two undergraduate construction degrees - BS Building Construction and BS Construction Engineering and Management - will be administered by the School of Construction on behalf of their respective departments and colleges. Outreach The School of Construction will unite skills and talents in the Department of Building Construction, the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program and other academic disciplines to establish a broad basis for outreach activity. It will work in close association with industry to develop, maintain and promote an active and relevant outreach program. Benefits Sought: Benefits sought by creating the School of Construction as a new organizational structure at Virginia Tech fall under four headings. These are: Unified Identity The School will provide a unified identity for construction education, research and outreach within Virginia Tech, to the academic community and to the industry. It will span traditional boundaries and develop synergies that cannot be achieved if the Department of Building Construction, the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program and other academic units involved in construction operate as independent or informally aligned units. Its faculty and its various activities will reflect the diversity of talent and technology needed for leadership in the industry. Faculty Synergy The School will bring together faculty from participating departments or units who choose to align themselves with the vision, values and mission of the School. Faculty will have the opportunity to participate in the School via selection and appointment as either primary, core or affiliate faculty. 3

4 Balanced Excellence Virginia Tech is a Land Grant University with clearly stated missions in education, research and outreach. The unified identity and synergies brought about by the establishment of the School will enable it to seek and achieve an international reputation for excellence in all three mission areas. National Stature The fact that the School will have a unified identity that includes all involved academic disciplines, the synergy between faculty and the breadth of programs offered will enable the School to recruit the very best faculty and students and improve the quality of the experience they enjoy at Virginia Tech. The School will be the first of its kind in the United States, establish a new paradigm for construction education, research and outreach, and be the constant beacon for innovation and excellence. Proposed Organizational Structure: The School will be jointly housed in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering. The School will be administered by the Director who will have formal reporting ties to the deans of both colleges. Faculty will be comprised of Primary Faculty with positions and reporting responsibility in the School, Core Faculty with tenure lines in their respective departments, and Affiliated Faculty from related academic disciplines. The School will have an Internal Advisory Committee that includes the deans of both colleges, the heads or designates of the participating departments, and selected representatives of other departments/schools/programs on the Virginia Tech campus that have significant ongoing activities related to construction. The director and associate director will be ex-officio members of the Internal Advisory Committee which will be chaired by one of the deans. Operating Budget: The School of Construction will receive funding from three sources: 1. New operating funding provided by the university at a level of $250,000 per year with funds available from August 2005 onwards to permit planning and cover initial costs. Of these funds, $50,000 will be from College of Architecture and Urban Studies, $100,000 from College of Engineering and $100,000 from the Office of the Provost. 2. Interim gift funding from two founding gifts at a level of $500,000 per year with funds conditional on the establishment of the School and available from August 2006 onwards until replaced by permanent endowment income. 3. Income from permanent endowments commencing no later than August 2010 to replace interim gift funding and provide permanent endowment income at an equivalent level as that provided by the interim gift funding. 4

5 Program Priorities: Faculty in the Department of Building Construction and the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program have met as a group and have sought input from a preliminary external advisory board to establish the following six priorities for the building and development phase for the School: 1. Coordinate existing graduate degrees in construction. 2. Propose and establish a new BS degree in Construction Engineering and Management, and coordinate undergraduate education in construction. 3. Propose and establish a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in Construction. 4. Establish three centers of excellence that characterize and form the philosophical foundation for the School: Values-based leadership, Excellence in creative learning environments and research, and Integrating and sustaining the built environment. 5. Support and develop synergy with the Center for Innovation in Construction Safety and Health. 6. Expand outreach activities in partnership with industry. Projected Number of Construction-Related Degrees to be Awarded and Administered by the School, and by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering: Degree Estimated number of Degrees awarded 05/06 06/07 07/08 08/09 Onwards 1 BS Building Construction Proposed BS Cons Eng Mgt (CEM) * 3 BS Civil Engineering with an emphasis on construction courses M.S. Building Construction M.S. Civil Eng with an emphasis in construction 6 Proposed Ph.D. in construction* 7 Ph.D. Civil Eng with an emphasis in construction

6 *These two degree proposals have not yet been reviewed and approved by university governance. RECOMMENDATION: That the proposed School of Construction be approved and the organizational change forwarded to the State Council for Higher Education for review and approval. 6

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