UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING AND PRESERVATION
HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROGRAM
FIVE YEAR REVIEW
REPORT OF EXTERNAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
May 1, 2015
The University of Maryland (UMD) graduate Historic Preservation Program (HISP) is undertaking a Five-Year Review in accordance with the UMD Policy on the Review of Academic Units. The external review team consisted of: Alison K. Hoagland, Professor Emerita at Michigan Technological University and formerly Professor of History and Historic Preservation; Carter L. Hudgins, Director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation jointly sponsored by Clemson University and the College of Charleston; and R. Brooks Jeffery, Director of the Drachman Institute, Coordinator of the Heritage Conservation Graduate Certificate Program, and Professor at the University of Arizona.
Prior to its campus visit, the Review Committee reviewed the Policy on the UMD Review of Academic Units for guidance as to criteria for this review. The Review Committee was provided with an excellent Self Study, which examined the Program in detail, including course offerings, faculty qualifications, student projects and employment, and facilities. The committee visited the campus on April 2 and 3, 2015, and held separate meetings with the Director, the Dean, other Program Directors, HISP faculty, the Program Assistant, the school’s recruiter, and HISP students. The Review Committee also toured the program’s facilities in both the Architecture Building and Caroline Hall.
The committee, while not charged with assessing HISP against the standards of the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE), nevertheless referred to the NCPE curriculum standards during its closing discussion. The committee noted that with the proposed inclusion of the American Architecture History course (see p. 5), HISP will meet the NCPE requirements for re-certification.
The committee observed a number of attributes, some tangible and some not, that are both distinguishing and strengthening and that deserve special mention.
The Review Committee found that HISP provides a high-quality academic experience for its students while it prepares them rigorously for a career. The curriculum is noteworthy for its reach and its diversity, especially given the small number of full-time faculty (1.5) assigned to the program.
Particularly noteworthy is the week-long orientation the Program provides its entering students at the beginning of the fall term. This week serves not only to introduce new students to the program’s culture and its academic expectations, but provides an intensive introduction to the architectural, historical, and cultural resources on which the program draws. This week also seems to serve not only to bond members of the incoming cohort together into a class but creates linkages between the new cohort and students who entered the program in prior years.
The Program’s Director provides energetic and enthusiastic leadership and, the committee observed, centers the program effectively. He has gathered a well-respected and highly-regarded faculty and appears to be an effective manager of the program’s human, curricular, and financial resources. Don Linebaugh’s accomplishments as a scholar provide a role model for the program’s students. Well-respected by the program’s students and his colleagues, he is an effective leader of the program.
The Program boasts a strong multi-disciplinary curriculum that draws effectively not only on historic preservation’s inherently multi-disciplinary character but also on a rich array of programs, departments, and projects whose courses and research complement the program’s core courses.
Of particular interest to the committee were courses organized around the innovative PALS program, a model for effective community outreach. The academic experience and the public assistance PALS provides may be unique. That may also be true of the course Social and Ethnic Issues, a course that puts concerns about race and class—issues almost all historic preservation courses brush past—at the center of instruction and discussion rather than at the periphery.
The committee noted too that the program has access to two “laboratories” in Bostwick House and Kiplin Hall. Very few programs can boast that their students have access to the kind of hands-on learning both historic buildings make possible.
The program’s faculty reflects both Linebaugh’s effective recruitment and his commitment to grounding the program in the challenges of contemporary practice. He has made the best use of the program’s proximity to federal, state, and private programs and the access that provides to potential adjunct faculty. The faculty is, simply, remarkable. It is an effective and innovative mix of practicing professionals and members of the University of Maryland’s permanent faculty. Students could not hope for, or be exposed to, a better equipped, more experienced, or more accomplished faculty.
The committee noted what appeared to be a genuine spirit of collegiality among the program’s many constituent groups—faculty, students, and staff. The positive effect of this spirit was palpable and the supportive role it plays quite clear.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
- Lack of ample elective offerings in curriculum
- Lack of HISP students’ access to the School’s Real Estate Development program
- Lack of advisors for Final Projects
- Lack of adequate financial assistance
- Lack of diversity (not just at UMD, but nationally)
- Need for the program to have more presence in the School
- Lack of sufficient faculty
- Inconsistent expectations of skill sets by faculty toward students
- Unclear faculty status (to students)
- Need for more diversity of expertise among faculty
- Overstretched Director
- Overstretched, with impending departure
- Location of program in two buildings
- No central gathering space
New Strategic Plan. Updating the 2006 HISP Strategic Plan would serve to both reinforce legacy strengths and codify emerging strengths based on the existing institution context and ongoing evolution of the program. A clearly defined strategic plan would not only guide internal decision-making, but also be a useful tool to inform candidates for the anticipated dean search to understand the HISP program as a School asset and to negotiate for additional resources.
Focus. Any future strategic plan should reinforce the program’s current values of teaching, research, community outreach, and diversity. It should also reinforce HISP’s locational advantage in its proximity to Washington, DC, and its multiple cultural and institutional resources. The Review Committee observed a discrepancy between these legacy values and the international preservation focus in the teaching and research interests of HISP’s 0.5FTE faculty member. The Review Committee recommends the Program’s strategic plan remain focused on its legacy values and locational advantage, and not dilute these with an international focus in which other regional historic preservation programs have already created a reputation.
The Review Committee also recommends developing stronger linkages to the UMD’s Social Sciences academic programs (e.g. History, Anthropology, etc.) for undergraduate recruitment as well as research and infrastructural capacity through the Center for Heritage Studies. These linkages should be used to explore future alignments and collaborations with HISP.
Curricular Mapping. An updated strategic plan should also refine the current curriculum map to clearly identify the strategic placement of the Program’s comprehensive learning objectives. Students are not introduced to the entire breadth of faculty in time for selecting advisors for their final project. The curriculum map should clearly define and assign the technical competencies (drawing, graphics, presentation, writing, etc.) required prior, during, and upon completion of the Program and then ensure that faculty implement those competencies as assigned. There also seems to be a lost opportunity to strengthen undergraduate offerings in HISP and provide an opportunity to integrate the Architecture program’s students, resources, and proficiencies with HISP, as well as providing a feeder to the graduate program.
Business Plan. The Review Committee recommends the development of a business plan as part of the strategic plan update. Given the financial realities of public educational institutions, identifying and securing alternative non-state funding will ensure the financial sustainability of the program to offset current budget challenges and to endure future fluctuations in state funding. More than just quasi-professional opportunities for HISP students, grant- and contract-funded projects can be seen as alternative vehicles to fund adjunct faculty and recruitment-critical graduate research assistantships. Other funding mechanisms to explore include tuition revenue supplements, especially applicable to the Professional Certificate (differential tuition, program fees, etc.), which could fund much-needed administrative support and adjunct faculty. We recommend more fully engaging the School and University’s development professionals to enhance HISP’s endowment portfolio to take advantage of the internal networking capacity of faculty (e.g., Connie Ramirez) and the region’s wealth of preservation-oriented resources.
Link with UMD Resources. HISP should also take advantage of UMD services in student recruitment, alumni services, development, etc., to track and nurture HISP alumni through traditional and emerging media. This would serve to build a potential donor base and ambassadors for program recruitment. Integral to this is the update of HISP’s website to reflect the informational expectations of prospective students, including the posting of student work, image-rich portrayal of the program’s values and assets, and links to HISP social media sites.
The Program’s internal discussions about the curriculum provided a springboard for the Review Committee’s comments. A Curriculum Draft dated 11/20/13 included many moves in the right direction. Generally, the Review Committee felt that the Program should move away from opportunistic curricular development and focus on its strengths related to its proximity to the national capital (e.g., Policy, Planning, Vernacular Architecture, work in diverse communities), which might distinguish it from its nearest competitors (e.g., Penn, Columbia).
Architectural History. The Review Committee endorses the proposed curriculum revision that adds a required course in American Architectural History. Consequently, the curriculum will meet NCPE standards, which require two courses in “the history of the designed environment.” The American Architectural History course would define the foundation for discussion of what is significant, and the Vernacular Architecture course would provide the additional tools for assessing and defining significance.
International Perspective. International Preservation should not be a required course, but rather be integrated as a theme throughout the curriculum. Expertise in international preservation issues will not be a skill that most employers seek, but a familiarity with methods employed outside the US will enable a comparative and analytical understanding of preservation issues. The international need is for materials conservation skills, which are not a core strength of this program. This program’s emphasis on policy and planning makes it particularly effective in U.S. contexts.
Social and Ethnic Issues should remain a core focus and program strength to build awareness. The student work in communities—the studio, the final project, and PALS projects—will reinforce this instruction. An ability to handle social and ethnic issues sensitively and deftly will serve students well in the marketplace and in their careers.
Law, Policy, Planning. The Review Committee endorses the proposed curriculum revision that consolidates Preservation Law and Policy.
Core Skills. The Program should define the core technical skills that are used in the field and then determine whether a general awareness of the possibilities of these skills or a true facility with them is necessary. That will then suggest where in the curriculum these should be introduced (such as in the opening “boot camp”) or applied (such as in Research Methods or Vernacular Architecture). When the appropriate course or level of expertise cannot be obtained from existing offerings of the School, outside people might be brought in, such as Deirdre McCarthy at the NPS for GIS instruction. Some technical skills might be offered in mini-courses during the Winter Break.
Technical writing and public speaking should be placed on a par with other technical skills. Employers look for both skills and both should be similarly mapped into the curriculum.
Professional Certificate. The Program should reinstitute the Professional Certificate and explore differential tuition and program fees based on market price points. Given the number of professionals in government in the Washington area who take on preservation duties without any background in the field, the professional certificate could find a market of older students interested in night classes, whose employers might underwrite their costs.
Real Estate Development (RED). Courses in this program would add depth to HISP offerings, but students are unable to take these courses because of differential tuition. This situation should be remedied.
The Program has experienced a recent downturn in applicants and acceptances. An entering class of 6-12 is ideal for classroom discussions and personal attention. The Review Committee welcomes the attention that student recruitment is receiving from the newly hired recruiter and offers these additional suggestions.
Funding. The Review Committee recommends that more funding sources could be identified for Graduate Assistants. Developing a Business Plan will help identify multiple sources for this type of funding.
Feeder Audiences. More feeder audiences should be identified, particularly those that are local (and who don’t find the local cost of living to be such a hurdle). The College Park campus is one natural pool; the challenge is drawing students to a field that they have not heard of or considered as a profession. General Education offerings in the Program might introduce a broad range of students to Historic Preservation as a field. Cross-listed undergraduate and graduate courses might introduce Architecture undergrads who are discouraged with their prospects as architects to consider the graduate program in historic preservation. Similarly, History and Anthropology course offerings might include preservation courses. Another pool of potential students is local employers, particularly the federal government.
Diversity. Diverse students could be drawn to the program by the undergraduate course HISP 200, The Everyday and the American Environment, which satisfies a general education requirement for diversity. If this course were renamed slightly to advertise its diverse aspect, it might serve as a feeder course for diverse students into the Program.
Need for Additional Faculty. While HISP has considerable disciplinary depth, it lacks a robust presence within the school. Director Linebaugh is the program’s only full-time faculty member. While the committee noted his enthusiasm and energy, it also noted that he is pulled in many directions and cannot by himself give the program the kind of gravitas it will need to move to the next level. One symptom of the faculty’s lack of depth is the difficulty students have assembling faculty advisers and committees for their Final Projects. Advising seems to fall now entirely on Linebaugh’s shoulders, yet another indication that adjuncts, no matter how accomplished, cannot provide the kind of support and guidance full-time faculty can.
HISP is currently supported by a faculty member who splits her time between HISP and Architecture. However, students do not perceive this half-time faculty member to be a “true core HISP faculty” member. It is unclear whether the shared position with Architecture is a successful model or whether the “fit” of the current person does, or does not, align with HISP core strengths.
In short, HISP needs at least one additional faculty member. One potential solution is to create a Clinical Faculty category for faculty like Dennis Pogue whose responsibilities would focus on teaching rather than research. Faculty in this category would, unlike adjuncts, perform departmental service and serve on student and school committees.
Faculty Expectations. Students complained that they were unsure of faculty expectations in writing (academic vs. technical writing) or whether they could, or should, employ technical skills in completion of their assignments (CAD was mentioned by several students). There appears to be a need for the faculty to reach a consensus of academic expectation about which skills are considered fundamental and thus essential for successful completion of class projects and assignments. Several students also complained that one faculty member expected them to continue to work on projects into the next semester.
Student Perception. Students indicated they were unsure of the status of faculty in the program. This confusion (who are the core members of the HP faculty? Who are adjunct faculty? Affiliated?) manifests itself in uncertainty about which faculty can perform academic services duties, e.g. serving on Final Project Committees and advising. The Review Committee recommends that the program, perhaps during the fall orientation, provide clearer explanation of how the program’s faculty is composed and the roles that the faculty can, and cannot, perform. The current half-time HISP faculty member is not introduced to students until they are in their second year. She is thus not considered approachable nor do they consider her as a potential Final Project committee member. Students perceive adjunct faculty member Dennis Pogue, rightly or wrongly, as the “other” HISP faculty member because he is introduced in Year 1. He is seen as more accessible to students than his full-time, tenure-track colleague. The Director should distribute a list of faculty who have agreed to serve on Final Project committees so that the formation of committees and the advising and guidance that follows are less worrisome.