Kean University, NJIT feud over similar curriculums

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By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record.

Kean University is launching an architecture school bearing the imprint of design guru Michael Graves, but the dean of the state’s premier public architecture program six miles away says the initiative is a waste of public money.

“The idea of having yet another program motivated by prestige or other considerations ... it doesn’t make any sense,” said Urs P. Gauchat, dean of the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design. “We have invested millions in keeping up with technology. … It behooves us not to duplicate."

Making matters worse, he said, NJIT’s architecture program in Newark has space for 200 to 250 more students than the 500 that are enrolled.

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“If we had the Department of Higher Education there is no way it would approve a program that is less than 10 miles away,” said James Castiglione, a physics professor who heads the Kean faculty union. “It’s redundant and costly.”

Graves has already made architectural drawings for a new building to house the program in China. The stateside program will operate out of Kean’s new building on Green Lane.

Castiglione said much of the push for the architecture program has come from demand for it in China. The campus, funded by the Chinese, now has more than 400 students and is projected to grow to 5,000 by 2016.

In a closed-door meeting in 2013, Farahi, the college president, told the members of Kean’s governing board that the Chinese government was interested in master teacher and architecture programs at the campus in Wenzhou, according to minutes from the executive session obtained by the faculty union.

“The citizens of New Jersey ought to be deeply troubled knowing that the communist Chinese government is determining what academic programs New Jersey taxpayers are being forced to support and what programs we will be offering to our students here in New Jersey,” Castiglone said.

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