Business

Struggling Boston Architectural College taps new president

Glen S. LeRoy, 64, a specialist in city planning and urban design, will become president Sept. 1.
Glen S. LeRoy, 64, a specialist in city planning and urban design, will become president Sept. 1.

The dean of a Michigan architectural school has been tapped to head the financially struggling Boston Architectural College, after a year-long search that started with the dismissal of longtime BAC president Theodore Landsmark.

Glen S. LeRoy, 64, who oversees Lawrence Technological University’s College of Architecture and Design in Southfield, Mich., will become president of Boston Architectural College Sept. 1. School officials were expected to announce the selection Monday.

The BAC board’s instructions to LeRoy, a specialist in city planning and urban design, are clear: Increase the financially struggling Boston college’s enrollment and boost fund-raising.

Advertisement

“I know these will be my two priorities,” LeRoy said of the enrollment and endowment challenges he’ll be facing at the BAC. “Architecture colleges across the country need to look at where they’re going.”

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

During the recent recession, the Boston Architectural College’s enrollment plunged by 30 percent to about 750 students and has never recovered. Its endowment of $10 million is tiny compared with those of other colleges and universities in the area.

Along with other construction-associated professions, the architecture sector took a major hit during the recent recession, as firms laid off architects in droves and enrollments at architecture colleges dried up across the country. Only recently have both the profession and the schools begun to recover; the BAC is hoping for a “modest” increase in enrollment this fall, its first in years, said Marc Pelletier, chairman of the board of trustees at the college.

The BAC employs about 140 full-time people; it has 300 part-time adjunct instructors, most of them practicing professionals in the Boston area.

During his 10 years at Lawrence Technological University, LeRoy helped to increase enrollment to about 850 students from 750, he said, while substantially boosting fund-raising, though he didn’t provide figures. Also, he increased the number of academic programs at the architecture school to 13 from three. Some of the new programs included transportation design, industrial design, and “game art,” otherwise known as video game design.

Advertisement

Pelletier said he was impressed with LeRoy’s accomplishments and his enthusiasm for tackling the challenges at BAC.

“He has a winning personality and national presence,” said Pelletier, calling LeRoy a “take-charge guy.”

Alex Krieger, a professor of urban design at Harvard University and a member of the BAC’s board of overseers, was pleased the college selected someone from outside of the region. “Boston Architectural College is a wonderful school, but it’s a somewhat hidden local treasure,” he said. “It needs a larger national presence, and I think an outsider like [LeRoy] can help with that.”

The search for a new president began after BAC’s trustees voted to dismiss Landsmark as its president after 17 years. Though Landsmark is widely praised for expanding the school and getting it full college accreditation in 2006, many board members felt that financial problems weren’t being adequately addressed.

“We didn’t really have a spending problem but rather a revenue problem,” Pelletier said. “Ted was a very important person for the college, but we needed a change.”

Advertisement

Last July, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh was blindsided when he nominated Landsmark to the board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority — only to learn that he had been dismissed a week earlier as head of the BAC. Landsmark’s appointment to the BRA was ultimately approved by the Boston City Council, after he was appointed president emeritus by the Boston Architectural College.