Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction named a champion of diversity by Metropolis Magazine

Published: March 14, 2017
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Auburn University's College of Architecture, Design and Construction has been ranked as one of the top eight schools nationally for its diversity initiative. The distinction comes from Metropolis Magazine, which focuses on architecture, culture and design.

The publication credits the college for not only openly publishing strategic plans to bring a more diverse student body to campus, but for also working to achieve those goals. Currently, people of color and international students make up 23 percent of the college's enrollment, and Metropolis named the college as best in diversity recruitment and education.

"Auburn considers itself among an elite peer group in terms of a design school, but to be recognized as a design school that's also inclusive is very exciting. That's not how Auburn has always been understood. We think we've been getting better all along, so to have that recognition, we're pretty proud of that," said Kevin Moore, associate professor and chair of interior architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. "The other design schools that are ranked in Metropolis are heavyweights, so hopefully people are realizing the best way to design is to have inclusive groups of people working on complex problems."

Moore advises a team of students which travels annually to the National Organization of Minority Architects, or NOMA, Student Design Competition. Out of approximately 30 teams, Auburn's has ranked near the top and often won the competition over the past several years. Moore said the caliber of their work and Auburn's efforts to be more inclusive has increased awareness about the school.

"I think the NOMA competition has been a venue to showcase the fact that we do have a diverse student body that works together on these types of difficult problems, and this has become more visible," said Moore. "Our student body is slowly becoming more diverse every year. Now we're at the point that it's more noticeable."

Moore said the College of Architecture, Design and Construction has changed its approach to becoming more diverse by how and when they recruit students.

"The goal is to reach students early. We're learning that high school may be too late. You have to get into middle schools and potentially even earlier. With older students, you're talking about a population that doesn't necessarily think about architecture as a profession. When asked 'what do you want to be when you grow up,' more kids think 'architect' early on. I knew in kindergarten that I wanted to be an architect. If you're talking about it in high school, it's almost too late," Moore said.

By recruiting at an earlier age, Moore sees a better chance of growing the numbers of minorities in the college. It's a strategy that has worked for the school in the past.

"With diversity, a lot of people want it to happen overnight. It doesn't happen that way. You have to build it slowly. The next hurdle is that our faculty should be more diverse, but it's just now that a significantly more diverse generation has gone through school and worked in the discipline. Now you'll see the change. It's a long-term strategy."

The Metropolis Magazine diversity rankings can be found online at http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-of-View/January-2017/Diversity-Champions-8-Schools-That-Arent-Just-Paying-Lip-Service-To-Diversity/.