When one of the courses (Design Economics) I taught at the School of Architecture (now the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism) was reviewed by their accreditation committee, I got a call from the director’s executive assistant to appear before the group, but she couldn’t tell me anything more about the meeting.
I don’t have to tell you that when a school is going through this process, it’s a scary and nervous time for everyone — administration staff, faculty and students. Like, what is a degree worth from an institution that loses its accreditation? Right, zero.
When I showed up, the room was set up like an interrogation — I sat on one side and the accreditation committee (I think there were a lot of them — seven or eight members) and my director sat on the other.
I thought, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble.”
Then the chair tells me my course would be designated as “exemplary.”
I said, “Does that mean you liked it?”
He answered, “It’s highly original in that it turns the discussion away from a sole focus on costs and professional fees to a more balanced one where architects can also establish, justify and obtain more value from their original work, artistry and craft.”
Then I turned to my director and asked, “What does that all signify?”
He said, “It means we — the faculty, your students and the committee — appreciate and want to recognize the work you do here at the school.”
After that, the chair said, “We would like you to consider sharing your course material, case studies, assignments and exams with other schools across Canada.”
I replied, “I follow the MIT model, where information wants to be free and the ‘delta’ they are actually selling is to get into a classroom with some smart classmates and a good lecturer, rather than the Harvard method, where everything is behind a paywall. So the short answer is: Sure, you bet.”
Then I added, looking at my director, “That is, if it’s acceptable to the school too?”
“No problem at all on our end,” he answered.
After which I said, “Great news all around! So, umm, do I get a raise?”
To which, they all laughed.
Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder
Real Estate Investment and Business coach
MAKING IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE
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