Five Minutes of Fame: Associate professor awarded Educator of the Year
The American Institute of Architects is a nationwide organization that brings architects residing in the same cities together to accomplish projects in architectural practices that require the effort of a full team.
AIA’s Houston chapter has chosen one of UH’s very own, associate professor Thomas Colbert, as Educator of the Year 2014 at its annual meeting and Affiliate Appreciation Party.
The Cougar: You were named Educator of the Year, what merits this award?
Colbert: I’m not quite sure. That was the decision of the Houston chapter of the AIA, so I can say that I’ve been teaching at UH since 1985 and a lot of projects are out there right now, a lot of them doing well, and that makes me feel good. A great many of them are involved with the AIA, architects in Houston and other parts of Texas. That probably has something to do with it.
TC: Were you expecting to receive the award?
Colbert: I had no idea I was even being considered; it was a very nice surprise.
TC: How closely affiliated are you with AIA Houston?
Colbert: I am a member and Chair of the Urban Design Committee. I’m also on the board; I guess that makes me fairly involved.
TC: What does AIA center its work around? How can people get involved?
Colbert: It’s for everyone, I would say. AIA is the professional organization of licensed architects in the United States, and to be a full member you need to be a licensed architect. Not so to be an associate member or to be involved with the architecture center of Houston, which is the facility AIA occupies and maintains. All you have to do is be on their email and mailing list, and they have quite a few activities for people from every walk of life. We like to think we can involve a wide variety of people in what we’re doing; we want to attract students to get engaged as well as professional practitioners. We try to not only be a home and a meeting place with these common interests, but also try to represent these interests to all levels of government and policy makers.
TC: Is it beneficial for students to familiarize themselves with AIA?
Colbert: Absolutely, I encourage all my students to get involved. It’s a great opportunity for students to meet people from all the other schools of architecture. They have architectural, neighborhood and home tours, lectures and presentations on architecture, but also all aspects of construction and planning as well as public policy are incorporated into different activities for members. The opportunity to network in the architectural community in Houston is facilitated through AIA. What could be better for an architecture student?