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Practice : Winter 2009
pRESIDENT’S lETTER ] TED laNDSmaRk pRESIDENT’S lETTER The BAC has sustained our educ ational mission through numerou s down ec onomies by a dapting to meet changing circumstance s. We have at various times taken on non-profit statu s, admitted women, a djusted curricula and lea rning philosophies, built on our volunteerism, and constrained spending. 2009–11 is different from previou s economic downturn s only in that we have anticipated that the high-flying building boom of the past decade and a half could not last forever. We began years ago to prepare for some retrenchment by diversifying our programs, developing innovative ways of delivering education, repairing and upgrading facilities when we had the funds, and creating an incre a sed emphasis on improving learning outc omes. We a re a lso re-a sse ssing some of our most fundamental approache s to tea ching and learning. Over this past fall, we have invited our community to participate in a series of Friday afternoon symposia where staff have presented some of our latest thinking on ways of improving profes sional educ ation. Thes e open symposia g athered staff, fa culty, volunteers and friends to discuss key concerns about how we are evolving some of our most basic premises to improve 21st c entury professiona l design learning while maintaining our commitment to accessible practice-ba sed learning. Some of the area s we are discussing include: foundation Studies A decade ago, ou r USNews-reported graduation rate wa s a miserable 4%. Thanks to improvements in advising a nd other supports, that figure ha s since risen to ab out 27%, which is still below what I believe is ac c eptable for an open-admission s profes sional college c ommitted to graduating more BAC entrants and growing our a lumni. Most of our dropouts oc cur within 18 months of arriva l at the BAC. Thorough a nalysis indicate s that the long-standing assumption that we are admitting lots of “tire-kickers” who a re only entering the BAC to “e xperience what design is like” is only a partial explanation of why so fe w students move beyond Foundation in Segment II, where more advanc ed le arning ta kes place. We can do more to support and retain the vast majority of students who believe the BAC will be a viable path to enter the profe ssions. Changes are b eing discussed a s to how we te ach across multiple disciplines, who and how we admit through our open admissions Open symposia gathered staff, faculty, volunteers and friends to discuss key concerns about how we are evolving some of our most basic premises to improve 21st century professional design learning while maintaining our commitment to accessible practice-based learning. pRacTIcE 2