It is with great sadness that I write this post.
Michael Jemtrud, an exemplary director, professor, and mentor will be [forcefully] stepping down from his position as the director of the School of Architecture at McGill University at the end of this month.
Throughout my undergraduate degree at McGill and the recently finished Masters degree, I have had the pleasure to witness McGill grow into a school of international standards, a School that has proven itself many a time in the last couple of years.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed my years as an undergraduate student, learning and blossoming into [hopefully] a good architectural designer with something to say and much to learn. Nevertheless, I witnessed with surprise and joy the changes that started taking place in the last couple of years, and I can say today, with much pride [for the School of Architecture], that I am extremely jealous of the education that undergraduate students are getting today - I really do wish I was them. I also fear for what is going to happen when they enter the field and compete against my generation of architects, but that’s a whole other story.
All this to say that, had it not been for Michael, I would not be writing all of this. The School of Architecture - MY School of Architecture, stepped into the 21st century and started aiming for excellence when Michael stepped in. A friend asked me today why we are all making such a big deal out of this - after all, aren’t most of my friends done? The kids that will start their undergraduate degree in the fall won’t even know the difference right? Well that’s what worries each and every one of us. At best, we might get stagnation. In the worst case, a backlash into what used to be (which was good for the times, but, it was good for the “times”).
Also, there is a personal agenda. Relationships between students and professors within our School are different. We call them by their first name. We talk to them. We eat with them. We drink with them. It gets personal very fast. There is mutual respect, understanding, challenging discussions, debates, arguments even. All to grow and become a better version of our professional selves. So Michael being gone? It is difficult. It is unfair. It is painful. It will not affect the next 5 years of my professional [nor educational as it is done] life. But it does affect me as a person with feelings. And it will affect the next generation of students and the School itself. And there again we get personal. This is not egoism. This is genuine caring.
But what is done is done right? We now need to somehow ensure the future of the School and of the Students. Many of us know how, but it is up to the important people to understand the how as well. I hope it’s not too late.