College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Dean’s Corner: October 2021


Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,

We’re now well into the Fall, and it’s that time of the year again for me to visit classes, one of my all-time favorite parts of the job—seeing faculty and students doing their thing. It’s ultimately what the rest of us are here to support. You can take away all the fancy bells and whistles of a university, but it stays a university as long as there is a faculty teaching students.

I have visited three classes so far, and together they exemplify the mind-blowing diversity and range of what we do in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

The first course was a third-year Cost Estimating class in the Nieri Family Department of Construction Science and Management, taught by Ehsan Mousavi, all about site preparation, excavating, and backfilling. He kept the students on their toes by asking them to solve some math questions: distance, area, and volume. Not very complicated, but it reminded me about kids always saying, “When will I ever need to use this?” The answer is of course: you never know when it will come in handy! Ehsan was incredibly gentle and patient with the students, and the lecture was so clearly presented that even I could understand all of it with absolutely no background in the subject.

Next was a graduate seminar on “Production and Assemblies: Crafting Sustainable Performance” in Architecture, team taught by Dan Harding, Vincent Blouin, and Ulrike Heine. It’s one of the great things I already witnessed last year in Architecture—having more than one faculty member teaching a course. It creates a dynamic and rich environment for students to learn. This particular session was a case study led by Dan Harding, who took us through the conception and construction of two houses he built in Bozeman, Montana. It was a fascinating journey into the mind of the architect who actually did the work and emphasized for me how vital it is that we have faculty in our Built Environment units who have experience practicing their art and craft.

Last, but definitely not least, a senior level French film class taught by Joe Mai in our Languages Department. The work under discussion was a 1943 film titled Le Corbeau (The Raven). Joe integrated the content of the film, which is about denunciation and the mechanics of creating a climate of fear, suspicion and anxiety with the wider issues in occupied France during the ideological battle to lay claim to what was authentically French. The film is a frightening anticipation of the age of social media. I was beyond impressed to see our students deftly handle this delicate and complex topic completely in a second language!

As always, I go away from these experiences convinced that the faculty and students in our College are operating at the highest level. This place is a gem. Clemson continues to be one of the best kept secrets in American academia. Can we work together to make it less of a secret?

“Go Tigers!”

Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

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