Alum Invests in Speaker Series
That extra little bit of insight into the industry and how it works is of great value to CM’s students, and guest speakers are an excellent avenue for bringing industry into the classroom. In 2013, William Duff (M.S., ’94) committed funding to the CM program to host industry speakers on campus and engage students in the possibilities of their future careers.
“CSU played an important role in my growth and education,” said Duff. “I saw this speaker series as a way to support and deepen my connection with the University.”
The inaugural events for this speaker series occurred in spring 2014. On April 8, as part of CM’s first Evening with Women in Construction Management event, the student chapters of Construction Management Association of America and Women in Construction utilized a portion of the funds to host Barbara Wagner, Vice President of Clark Construction. She brought a project manager with her and together they discussed career paths, gender differences in the construction industry, and how students should develop key skills to help with advancement of their careers.
On April 21, the Design-Build Institute of America and US Green Building Council student chapters hosted Nancy Kralik, senior director of health, safety and environment at Fluor Construction. Her presentation, titled “Design-Build for Healthy Sustainable Projects,” featured best practices that significantly impact advancing construction education and leadership. “I really enjoyed my time at CSU,” said Kralik. “There is a high caliber of students, and they represent CM well.”
Duff’s own experience builds on this idea that a well-developed core of skills and knowledge can be greatly beneficial to a career in construction. “I had to take several classes at the College of Business to complete my CM degree, and I still go back to many of the business fundamentals I learned at CSU as my firm continues to grow. The construction classes were equally valuable. I feel that as an architect I have a more complete set of tools to work with because I learned to develop a design process that is always mindful of the building’s construction. When I design a beautiful space, it’s more likely to turn out the way I envisioned because I understand how the contractor will actually build it.”
Duff was born in the San Francisco Bay area and moved to Fort Collins as a toddler when his father obtained a faculty position in CSU’s College of Engineering. He earned degrees in architecture and construction management and earned critical hands-on experience at two well-regarded California architecture firms before opening his own, William Duff Architects, 16 years ago. One of his earliest memories is of his parents taking him out of kindergarten for the day to watch an excavator dig the hole for the basement of their future family home, and he credits this event as the start of his love for design and construction.
“From my perspective, which blends my experience with both architecture and CM, I would encourage our future builders to deepen their engagement with design,” said Duff. “Study architectural history, walk through notable buildings, talk through plans with architects, and try to understand what exactly feels comfortable in well-designed and well-constructed spaces. The more you know about the design, the better you’ll construct the building.”