The retro-graduates completed their requirements for bachelor's degrees in architecture prior to 1998, when the National Architectural Accrediting Board gave the MSU School of Architecture permission to replace its five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree with a five-year Master of Architecture degree.
In 2008 the Montana Board of Regents gave MSU permission to retroactively offer a master's degree to all alumni that had received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from MSU. To be eligible for the retroactive master's, the graduates had to complete an online course.
In all, 463 MSU architectural alumni took advantage of the offer. Of those, 108 of alumni as well as their families and guests, will celebrate at ceremonies to be held on the MSU campus.
"This will have tangible effects for many of our graduates," said John Brittingham, MSU professor of architecture and interim associate director of the school. "The diploma will carry more weight."
He said in many cases some of the affected graduates have narrowly lost jobs in intensely competitive job bidding situations because they did not have a master's degree-despite having successful and highly qualified firms.
Those graduates will include Vince Werner, class of 1948. Werner, 87, now lives in Missoula. He is the oldest graduate expected to attend the ceremonies. Celebrants will travel to Bozeman from as far as Kuwait.
The retro master's celebration begins Friday, June 26, with a barbecue for the retro-graduates and their families. The formal ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 27, in the MSU SUB. The ceremony includes an address to the graduates by MSU President Geoff Gamble and key leadership from the School of Architecture. The keynote speaker will be Aaron Betsky, an architect, critic, curator, educator and writer. Betsky has been the director of the Cincinnati Art Museum and director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam. A graduate of Yale University's School of Architecture, he has worked as a designer for Frank Gehry, among others. He has written about I.M. Pei, Un Studio, Zaha Hadid and others.
John Brittingham (406) 994-3832, firstname.lastname@example.org