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Focus On EMU: Professor Nancy Villa-Bryk Celebrates Historic Preservation Tradition At EMU

Tyler Strunk/ Eastern Echo

Professor Nancy Villa-Bryk plays a crucial role in one of the few masters programs in the country of its kind – Eastern Michigan University's Historic Preservation Graduate Program. The thirty-five year old graduate program is also the largest program in the field, boasting over 90 students in its award winning program.  Students, faculty, and staff within the program and throughout the university recently opened an exhibit in EMU’s McKenny Hall, documenting the school’s 168 year history.

“The best way to preserve the past is to really wrap it up tightly in the present,” Villa-Bryk said.

The space, which opened in early October, features several exhibits surrounding the history of the campus. Villa-Bryk specializes in historic house preservation and interpretation, led the team within the university to develop the project.

She selected a graduate assistant, Jamie Baird to help plan, research, design and acquire significant artifacts for the exhibit. Villa-Bryk plans to carry on this project every semester from now on. Students in the graduate program will work together to maintain the museum exhibit class, giving students much needed experience for the real world."

“We are very proud of our placement,” Villa-Bryk said. “We are very proud of our graduate students."

While there are no undergraduate programs in the subject, most of the students are going back to school from other professions. Like many, Villa-Bryk said she fell in love with the subject while she was a theater major at the University of Michigan and while she was working as a historical building preservationist at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. After working at the nearby Ann Arbor Hand’s On Museum, she became an adjunct professor for twelve years at EMU, and has been an assistant professor for the last three years.

"The best way to preserve the past is to really wrap it up tightly in the present"

See more photos from the event

The Eastern Echo: EMU Mckenny Hall Historic Gallery Opening

  • *Additional production from Andrew Saunders
Patrik is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and functions as the New Media/Social Media manager for 89.1 WEMU.
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