John Gaunt is pleased he's leading Kansas University's School of Architecture and Urban Design during these times of change.
These are exciting days for John Gaunt, who's starting his third year as dean of Kansas University's School of Architecture and Urban Design.
Kansas University has undertaken a major reorganization in its administrative staffs, and that excites Gaunt. The architecture school is working to respond better to changes in the private sector, and that excites Gaunt.
"These are really dynamic times," said the former CEO of an international architecture firm. "I think they are dramatically dynamic times."
The architecture school -- which trains budding planners, engineers and architects -- is hoping to better address changes in technology.
"We clearly have targeted some of our key resources to that area," Gaunt said.
Because resources are limited and technology changes so quickly, it doesn't make sense for the school to be on the leading edge. However, it does make sense for the school to provide its students with an understanding of basic technology used in their fields of study.
"We do the best we can do it," Gaunt said. "That's a positive thing, as far as I'm concerned."
The dean takes to heart a Carnegie Foundation study released three years ago that said there's a significant gap between the education that students receive and the information they need to enter the private sector.
In Gaunt's view, educators need to understand professional needs and make changes while holding on to traditions that have worked well.
The architecture school's outreach to the professional world recently increased. That will help the school with fund-raising, mentorships and internships, Gaunt said.
The school is establishing professional-educational partnerships that place students in offices and professionals in the classroom.
And Gaunt wants to expand the school's international programs. He would like every student in the school to have the opportunity to study abroad. That will take additional financial support.
Gaunt believes that his students should take advantage of the entire university. That means attending performances at the Lied Center, viewing the artwork at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art and becoming acquainted with the university's libraries.
It's important for architects, he said, to be as broad-based in their view of the world as they can be.
The raw materials are in place for the school to shine. The school has a well-deserved strong reputation. And it has well-developed programs.
"I think we have an opportunity here to make it a real national model for professional design education," Gaunt said.