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A Message from our Director, Kate Schwennsen, FAIA


Fall 2019: This is Us

“Everyone has a family.  And every family has a story.” The popular NBC drama, “This is Us”, chronicles a family across the decades. This website and our newsletter are the School of Architecture’s version of “This is Us”. It chronicles the story of this big family of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. Neither our website or newsletter is comprehensive, but rather tries to convey some of our most significant happenings and successes, and a sense of the culture of this collective, this family. This is us.

With each issue and/or web update, it becomes more challenging to edit the contents, because this is an extremely busy, diverse, and successful family. Like the television series, we need time to appropriately chronicle our story. The 2018-19 academic year was particularly full, with highlights including the following:

  • Rankings:  The professionally accredited M.Arch and BLA degree programs were once ranked within the “Nation’s Best”.
  • Accreditation:  The professionally accredited BLA and MLA gained a maximum 6-year re-accreditation. The M.Arch gained a maximum 8-year accreditation in 2017…..2025 is going to be a very busy year for these program.
  • Patent:  We are a family that makes stuff, and that making is innovative and important. The Sim(PLY) framing system is the recipient of the school’s and the college’s first patent.  (There is another patent in the works, regarding another system of making, which I hope to report on in the next issue.)
  • Fluid Campus Trademark:  The Fluid CampusTM, is now recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark unique to Clemson’s School of Architecture.
  • Community engagement:  I’ve lost track of how many communities and collaborators our students and faculty were engaged with in the previous year.
  • Awards, recognition and productivity of faculty and students:  Our family members continue to receive the highest accolades and to participate at the highest levels.
  • Alumni support:  Our family is very fortunate to have the generous support of our alumni and friends. Last fall I was a member of a panel focused on “off-campus programs” at a conference of peer administrators. Only the “best of the best” programs can compete with the level of support we receive from our alumni, who I hope think of themselves as members of this family.
  • Admissions and enrollments:  Because of these successes, the school is proud that last year was the largest student enrollment of the past decade, and next year is going to be even bigger, going against the trend in some of our peer institutions. And the students that we are attracting, and the schools with whom we are competing, are the best of the best, not only academically, but as potential members of this family. 

Prior to each graduation I have the privilege of holding exit interviews with our graduating students. The questions are simple: 1)What are the strengths of the program?  2)What do we need to improve?  3)Would you do it again?  4)What is next for you?  I gain valuable insight in all of the questions/categories, but I am consistently proud about the consistency of the strengths, which include the robust and diverse expertise of our faculty, the Fluid Campus (locations and areas of specialization), and the collegiality and sense of family that is central to Clemson’s School of Architecture.

We look forward to the 2019-20 academic year, and all the happenings and success it will bring. This is us.

Kate Schwennsen

Kate Schwennsen, FAIA
Director + Professor

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