Salve Regina, IYRS to offer bachelor’s degree in traditional building arts
In a city defined by its rich history in boats and buildings, Salve Regina, in partnership with IYRS School of Technology & Trades, will begin offering a traditional building arts degree track as part of its cultural and historic preservation program.
Beginning in fall 2015, Salve Regina students can enroll in courses leading to the new 48-credit bachelor of science degree in CHP-TBA (cultural and historic preservation-traditional building arts) in what administrators believe is the only collaborative program of its kind in the country.
“This educational partnership blends theory and practice, and the past and the present in a unique way,” said Jane Gerety, RSM, Salve Regina president. “The integration will prepare students for meaningful and important work.”
The new degree track is a logical extension of the goals of the CHP program, which include the preparation of students to participate in and contribute to the practice of historic preservation in the United States, explained Robert Russell, director of the Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation program.
“Further, one of the core goals of Salve is the ‘linking of the past, present and the future,'” he said. “This new track endeavors to do precisely that, resuscitating lost and nearly lost practices and materials connected with the traditional building arts and teaching them to a current generation of students so that they can become the future restorers of the country’s historic buildings.”
In addition to completing an undergraduate degree at Salve Regina, students will also enroll in courses taught at IYRS, located on Thames Street in downtown Newport. Students will culminate their studies during the final semester of their senior year with a six-month, 15-credit apprenticeship with a preservation contractor, arranged through IYRS.
“This will be a full-on IYRS experience, deeply experiential, very hands-on, incorporating technology,” IYRS President Terry Nathan said of the student experience. “The Salve students will be side-by-side with students coming directly through the IYRS program, and we think that’s really important. We’ve had some wonderful experiences doing collaborative seminars. It’s incredibly interesting to see students from different backgrounds and skill sets come together to work on the same things.”
Russell said this unique partnership directly addresses a significant problem facing historic preservation in the country: the lack of craftsmen and women adequately trained in the traditional building arts. Educational institutions, he said, must play a role in reviving these skills.
“The 20th century saw the almost complete disappearance of people capable of executing traditional designs in traditional and historically accurate materials,” he said. “The building trades developed along other lines and those who in the past were responsible for maintaining standards – owners of private companies, or unions – have largely forgotten that this was historically one of their most important jobs.”