KU's architecture school will have a new dean for the first time in more than a decade.
Kansas University hired the former head of the country's largest architecture firm to be dean of architecture and urban design, KU announced today.
John Gaunt, 58, said today from Minneapolis, Minn., that he always wanted a career as a professional architect and architectural educator.
"My interest has always been there in terms of the combination of practice and teaching," he said.
Gaunt becomes dean on July 1. He replaces Max Lucas, who decided to step down after 12 years to teach full time.
Gaunt spent 28 years as a professional architect, the final 18 with Ellerbe Becket of Minneapolis. He climbed to the rank of chairman and chief executive officer.
The company employs 800 architects, engineers and interior designers. One of its four branch offices is in Kansas City, Mo.
Gaunt left Ellerbe Becket in January to search for a university teaching job.
"I think there is a kind of symmetry of completing that loop and putting the experience one has in practice into education," Gaunt said.
KU Chancellor Gene Budig said Gaunt was a nationally known architect and business leader who appreciated the instructional process.
"The breadth of his interests and his formidable intellectual gifts make him an ideal leader for our school," said Dave Shulenburger, KU vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Gaunt said he was convinced there must be stronger connection between architectural schools and firms.
"Architectural practice is changing dramatically. It's a profession in real flux at the moment. It's particularly important that the academic world be very well-connected to those changes."
He considered taking a similar position at Iowa State University. He wouldn't reveal his KU salary nor information about ISU's offer.
"It came down to my own feelings about the best fit for me personally," Gaunt said. "I found it (KU) a very compelling situation."
Gaunt had two interviews at KU this month and formally accepted the job last week.
"I was impressed with the university on a whole," he said. "I think the school ... has a very good, very established faculty."