After 11 years as dean, the poet Mashburn is leaving his post. He will step down, effective Sept. 1, 2009. A search committee will be formed to find candidates to succeed him.
"This is a very appropriate time for a change," Mashburn said. "The university has new leadership and is on the cusp of reaching the next level, and this is a good time in the life of the college."
Mashburn first came to the University of Houston as a student, earning his undergraduate degree from the College of Architecture in 1978. His professional and academic life took him to Texas A&M, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia.
"UH is a special place. It was special when I was a student here, and it was a special place to come back to," Mashburn said.
When he took the reins of the College of Architecture, there were about 500 students enrolled. He says the college has grown at about twice the rate of the university. With that growth comes more diversity. In 2007, Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education Magazine ranked the college number one among architecture programs in the country for awarding degrees to Hispanic students. In addition, the college has added programs in industrial design and hopes to add a program for interior architecture. "We needed to take the college into the future," Mashburn said of his early days as dean. "Design disciplines were converging. Digital fabrication and pre-fabrication were coming, which meant the design and construction of buildings was being affected. The school needed to look to the future and position itself."
To that end, he spearheaded the effort that led to an Industrial Design program. Today, it is the only one of its kind in a four-state region. The college hired faculty skilled in "digifab," a cutting-edge method of designing and generating objects and prototypes using 3-D modeling software and computer-aided manufacturing equipment. In addition, the college cultivated relationships with corporate and industry leaders to reinforce the advanced training students were receiving.
"One of our biggest achievements was the creation of the Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center, a place where students make their ideas work," he said. "This year, our Graduate Design/Build Studio used it to create an award-winning outdoor stage for an elementary school. The quality of our student work today is really second to none."
The Keeland building was a collaborative effort involving local industry, college faculty and university support.
While he says there are many things he will miss, the daily contact with the students tops the list.
"When I first came here, there were students who weren't sure about me. Now, students stop me when I walk in the building, just to say hi. They call me ‘Joe.' It's wonderful."
As far as the future for him, Mashburn says he'll stay connected to the college, primarily teaching the Introduction to Architecture and Industrial Design class, a role he cherishes. But now, he jokes, he's looking for a job.
"I want to leave at the top of my game. It's been a period of strong professional and personal growth," he said. "But right now, I don't know what's next, and I'm not concerned. It's time to explore opportunities."
For more information about the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, visit www.arch.uh.edu/.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 36,000 students.