Competitive tuition and faculty accomplishments within the School of Architecture were likely factors in the school’s undergraduate program being ranked second in the nation for 2012. Budget cuts could threaten to bring that ranking down in the future, architecture dean Frederick Steiner said.
UT’s ranking, compiled by DesignIntelligence, a journal that produces the only national rankings for accredited bachelor’s and master’s architecture programs in the United States, was second only to Cornell University.
“Students definitely look to rankings, so it’s better to be ranked high,” Steiner said. “I actually believe at the undergraduate level, we’re the best in the country. I think we’re stronger than Cornell who is ranked ahead of us. We are certainly the top public university in the nation at the undergraduate level.”
DesignIntelligence did not respond to requests to disclose their ranking system on Monday, but Steiner said cost was a significant factor. Of the top 10 universities, UT was the least expensive in 2010 for in-state tuition at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, according to information compiled by the School of Architecture.
“We are by far and away the cheapest, most inexpensive school,” Steiner said. “What keeps me up at night is if we will be able to continue to keep that ranking when obviously our budget is not increasing.”
Steiner said the School of Architecture has filled faculty vacancies with lower ranking titles than their outgoing predecessors to save $52,000 in the past year. He said support from the university president and provost have helped navigate through budget cuts, but he said he knows maintaining the quality of the program with less money is unsustainable.
As Steiner and other administrators dealt with the logistics of funding, he said the fantastic work during 2011 by faculty contributed to the school’s 2012 ranking, which rose from seventh place last year.
“Larry Speck won the Topaz medallion which is the highest honor for an architectural educator,” Steiner said. “The faculty also won quite a few awards and published several books that year, so we were quite productive.”
DesignIntelligence added architecture professor Larry Speck and associate professor Hope Hasbrouck to its list of “top 25 most admired educators of 2012.” These designations, released in conjunction with program rankings, are achieved through recommendation from architecture students and academics, which makes the accomplishment more rewarding, Speck said.
“It’s the sort of thing you can’t campaign for or apply for, which is great,” Speck said. “I love it when you don’t apply and people say ‘Yeah, that’s someone I admire.’”
Architecture graduate student Nelly Fuentes expressed her admiration for Hasbrouck.
“She’ll be the last one to brag about herself, but her wealth of knowledge and experience in the profession is quite impressive,” Fuentes said. “As a professor she is invested and insightful, particularly with regards to the making of place and representing landscape.”
Architecture senior James Spence said he took a class with Speck freshman year and said talented instructors like him had to have benefited UT’s ranking.
“UT’s strengths are the sure-fire reasons the school was ranked No. 2 in the nation,” Spence said. “Most of these strengths come from our staff. Not only are our professors very well versed in their respective fields of architecture, but they are deeply involved with the progress of their students.”