Reaccreditation means construction students can continue to improve campus

Their work is all around you. As students of Northern Kentucky University walk the grounds each day, they may not know that they are driving through, parking on and sitting in the work of their fellow students.

NKU’s degree program in construction management has led to students to make improvements on campus and in the community. The program will be able to continue these improvements, thanks to its recent re-accreditation from the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE).

Sean Foley, chair of the program, said that students in the program have had hands in the building of the Bank of Kentucky Center, the new soccer stadium and the Student Union, and have worked on Griffin Hall, scheduled to open in fall 2011.

The program has made other contributions to community services, including Habitat for Humanity and Housing Opportunities in Northern Kentucky, Foley said. He also had someone involved with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when they helped out an Ohio family a few years ago.

“Of course I was relieved to know that the [accreditation] visit went well,” Foley said.

From Sept. 18-21, 2010, an assessment team from ACCE visited campus. They assessed the program’s curriculum, making sure that all standards are being met, which included interviewing the president, provost, students and staff. By late February, NKU received the news that it had been re-accredited. (The accreditation lasts six years.)

NKU’s Construction Management program developed out of its Civil Engineering program. It then morphed into its own interdisciplinary program, according to Foley. It has found its home now in the College of Business after previously belonging to the College of Professional Studies.

Despite the good news about the re-accreditation, Foley acknowledged that there are some concerns for current construction management students.

Foley has blamed the downturn in the economy with a lack of increase in students. The program has not lost students, but they have yet to gain students, Foley said. About 220 students are currently in the program.

“We, so far, have been very lucky,” he said.

He also said he has fielded calls from concerned parents and family members about economic concerns, and agrees with them: it is a bad time to graduate.

But Foley remains hopeful that as the economy rebounds, so will the career opportunities. The void left by those who left the construction field to pursue other careers will create even more jobs, he said.
He bases this, in part, on history.

Speaking on job placement in 2005 and 2006, Foley said, “I could not place enough students.” He said there was a near 100 percent placement rate among his students. Foley also said that, for his December grads, their starting salary averaged around $48,500.

Story by Sean Dressman