Professor shortage delays start of architecture courses

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By Rosanne Van Vierzen

Six students in the fourth year of Ryerson’s architecture program missed more than a month of two required courses because there weren’t professors to teach them.

The students, who are earning a bachelor of technology degree with a specialization in landscape architecture, couldn’t attend LAR 034, a thesis class with six lab hours per week.

“We were angry but we couldn’t do anything about it,” said student Sandra Spudic, who wants a partial refund for the cancelled classes.  “I’m paying for a service that I’m not getting.”

Two instructors were hired Oct. 11 after program administrators scrambled for five weeks to replace professors Jonas Spence-Sales and Tom Sparling, who both fell sick at the beginning of the school year.

“There was a major difficulty in finding competent, available, interested people from the [architecture] industry,” said Michael Miller, the chair of Ryerson’s architecture department.  “We didn’t want people who were going to shortchange the students.”

Miller said that he and the program director, Margery Winkler, met with the students to explain the situation.

“We tried to keep them aware,” he said.  “They were understanding and co-operative.”

Spudic is still fuming over the delay, especially since one of the classes was her thesis class.  That meant she didn’t have an instructor to oversee the largest project of the fourth-year program.

“It’s something that you’re afraid of since first year,” she said.

Rob Lau, Spudic’s classmate, said he believes the university owes him $281 for the class time he missed.

“The main problem was that it put us behind in the course work,” he said.

Other profs who taught in the fourth-year landscape architecture program were affected by the lack of teachers too.

Sam Benvie, who has taught a sessional landscape architecture class for eight years, said that the situation became onerous at times as he tried to help students deal with the pressures of not having class.

“I don’t mind going beyond what I normally do with the students,” Benvie said.  “But this is certainly involved extra thinking and activity on our part.”

John Consolati and Ian Dance were hired to cover the classes in the fifth week of school, but Miller said they didn’t start teaching until last week because the schedule was offset by Thanksgiving.

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