Art & Design

Two MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design degree programs gain departmental designation

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Contact: Christie McNeal

Dia Baldwin of Odenville, Alabama, and Aidan Taylor of Red Banks, both MSU senior interior design majors, discuss a historic renovation project at Waverly Mansion in Clay County. Two programs in MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design—Interior Design and Building Construction Science—recently have been elevated to full departments. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two degree programs in Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art and Design are now elevated to full departments.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning recently approved departmental status for MSU’s Building Construction Science and Interior Design programs.

Dean Angi Elsea Bourgeois said both programs already have been operating internally like departments, as independent academic units with their own leadership under the college umbrella.

When the College of Architecture, Art and Design was formed in 2004, Interior Design was established as a stand-alone degree program with a separate curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science, and previously had been a concentration within the human sciences degree program. The Building Construction Science program, which started in 2006, also was established from the beginning as a stand-alone program leading to a Bachelor of Science.

Bourgeois explained that the programs were too small initially to receive departmental designation, but quickly grew in complexity as well as faculty and student numbers.

“We have long exceeded the benchmarks IHL requires for an academic unit to be called a department,” said Bourgeois.

These benchmarks include a separate financial structure and budget, an academic administrator and a critical mass of faculty.

“We just had to petition IHL with a request to create the departments within which these academic programs sit,” she said.

“It’s really an outward, fundamental recognition of the stature that both of these programs have reached,” Bourgeois said. “It demonstrates that they are significant programs with all the fullness people think about with a department.” The dean said the designation not only recognizes significant growth but also the reputations and accomplishments the academic units have attained.

Since its inception, the Building Construction Science program has graduated 11 classes and earned full accreditation from the American Council for Construction Education. A new trades supervision option also was established recently through the Bachelor of Applied Science degree program at MSU-Meridian.

George Ford, who has led BCS for the past four years, said it has doubled in student enrollment since 2016 and will continue to grow as new programs are added. 

“The U.S. construction industry is forecast to continue growing for many years to come, and graduates from the BCS department will become tomorrow’s leaders in the state and nation,” Ford said.

Since joining the college, the Interior Design program has earned dual accreditation through the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and an additional body, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Last year, it added the Master of Fine Arts degree program in historic preservation.

Beth Miller, department head, said the new designation has been a longtime goal for Interior Design, which also houses minors in interior design studies and lighting design.

Bourgeois said the designation sets the units up for additional growth and prestige.

“The department designation will allow them to be seen on an even playing field with our peers and recognized as the leaders in their disciplines that they already have become,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the growth both of these programs will continue to achieve.”

Learn more about MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design at www.caad.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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