Master of Architecture’s first class graduates

First cohort a ‘milestone for accreditation of the program’

By Bob Cunningham

Brick by brick the Department of Architecture and Environmental Design is working to become an accredited program.

The first fruits of those ongoing efforts were borne May 6 when the Master of Architecture’s first cohort of five students graduated.

Sean J. Bostater, Shilpa Mehta, Timur Rashidovich Valiulin, James Alexander Wilson and Matt Zix now have master’s degrees of architecture from Bowling Green State University. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) has granted BGSU's Department of Architecture and Environmental Design continuing candidacy for its Master of Architecture professional degree.

“It’s not only graduating students, it’s a milestone in our accreditation for the whole program,” said Dr. Salim Elwazani, a professor of architecture and environmental design. “We are getting close. We have three phases we have gone through so far for our accreditation by the NAAB.” 

The program already has gone through the eligibility and candidacy phases and is currently in the continuation of candidacy phase. Elwazani said the next step is moving forward to initial accreditation.

“The fact that we are where we are means we are on task to do things as soon as we can,” he said. “The students when they graduate will have a Master of Architecture degree. They graduated while we don’t yet have the degree accredited, so this is a dilemma to any program starting. But the policy is such that anybody who graduates two years before accreditation will be considered graduated from an accredited degree program — so nobody will be left in the cold.” 

The $4 million renovation of the Park Avenue building, a 30,000-square foot facility, was another important landmark for the architecture program’s accreditation process. It opened at the beginning of the spring semester. 

“This building has had a great impact for us,” Elwazani said. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects was $76,100 in 2015. Employment of architects is projected to grow 7 percent through 2024, and competition for jobs will be very strong because the number of applicants continues to outnumber available positions.

All of which puts more importance on graduating from an accredited architecture program. 

“Once we are accredited, our reputation jumps,” Elwazani said. “Our undergraduate program will be looked at differently, then we’re going to have even more students interested in the program and we will be in a better position to select future students. It’s a win-win situation for the University and all involved.”