Miami University’s music and architecture programs have recently been recognized in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011 for being among the top programs in their fields.
In the guide, Miami is listed as one of 20 “Public Universities Strong in Architecture” and one of 25 “Major Universities Strong in Music.” Miami was also ranked one of 36 “Public Universities Strong in Business.”
John Wiegand, chair and professor of architecture and interior design, said Miami is one of only four National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited universities in Ohio. The other three are The Ohio State University, Kent State University and University of Cincinnati.
As opposed to a five-year bachelor of architecture program, Miami offers a four-year bachelor of art in architecture pre-professional program as well as a master of architecture graduate program. Wiegand said this is one of the strengths of the undergraduate program.
“One of the things we talk about as being unique is our emphasis in broad-based education,” Wiegand said.
Wiegand said the liberal arts undergraduate education Miami offers is important in his field because architecture is very interdisciplinary. He said students need a broad base of understanding in art, science, human behavior and business to succeed in architecture.
Wiegand said off-campus study, from Over-the-Rhine to Ghana, Africa, is another unique aspect of the program. He said more than half of the department’s students participate in off-campus study before graduation.
The department also partners with other university departments, Wiegand said. Collaboration with the business, education and engineering schools, as well as other programs, give students interdisciplinary experience.
The program is also competitive. According to Wiegand, of the 400 to 500 undergraduate applicants the department receives, only 75 are accepted. The high caliber of students and the small class size allows for successful collaboration even in the students’ first-year studio classes, Wiegand said.
Miami’s music department is also proud of their ranking in the Fiske guide.
The list of 25 “Major Universities Strong in Music” includes both public and private universities, but it does not include conservatories.
According to Judy Delzell, music department chair and professor, the department actively recruits high school students and even students as young as eighth grade.
“Recruiting for talented music students is like recruiting honors students and athletes,” Delzell said.
She said the department communicates with 1,000 to 1,200 high school students and only brings in about 50.
“Of the students who pass the audition, roughly 40 percent will choose Miami,” Delzell said.
That’s a great number, she said, because students often audition at three to five schools.
Delzell attributes the success of the program to both its ability to bring in talented and driven students and training throughout the program.
She said Miami’s relatively smaller department allows for a closer-knit community of musicians, greater faculty interaction and more opportunities for students. She said the strength of Miami’s various ensembles is also a draw.
“I think our reputation as a strong program is based on the quality of our performing ensembles,” Delzell said.