Dr. Maha Salman Appointed New Chair of Yorkville’s Bachelor of Interior Design
“I joined Yorkville University in 2009, and since then I have witnessed all the development that has happened for this marvelous institution,” said Salman, who, in addition to teaching a broad range of on-campus and online courses for Yorkville’s BID program over the years, has also undertaken the roles of Acting Program Coordinator and CIDA/Archival Coordinator.
“This new role as chair, I feel, is crowning my long experience with Yorkville University that’s allowed me to create positive and close relationships with both students and faculty.”
Now a LEED-accredited professional with more than 25 years of industry and academic experience as a professor, architect and interior designer in Canada and abroad, Salman said her interest in design and architecture was first piqued as a child growing up in Baghdad, Iraq.
“I grew up with these beautiful, amazing, historic buildings and monuments, and I was inspired by how these people could build these things with the simple techniques they had at that time,” she said.
“In addition to that, I always tried to challenge myself – I loved designed, I loved drawing, and I always looked for solutions that were out of the box. I didn’t like anything to be convenient, and that’s what drew me to study architecture in the beginning.”
After receiving her MSc from the University of Baghdad, Salman went on to obtain her PhD is Sustainable Architecture from the University of Huddersfield in the UK – but her thirst for knowledge didn’t end with the completion of her doctorate degree.
“Knowledge never ends – things always change, and as a professor, it’s our job to always be updated,” said Salman, whose ongoing research work has garnered many international accolades, including the Best Paper Award at the 4th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S) in Amsterdam in 2016.
Also a published author, Salman’s most recent works include the 2017 book Contemporary Trends in Sustainable Architecture, which was published in Jordan, and a chapter entitled Sustainability and Vernacular Architecture: Rethinking What Identity Is, which was included in the 2018 IntechOpen/UK book Urban and Architectural Heritage Conservation Within Sustainability.
Bringing that kind of research background into the classroom at Yorkville has always been a priority for Salman, not only because it allows her to impart on her students the latest knowledge, but also because it encourages them to look at their coursework in innovative new ways and from different perspectives.
Describing her teaching philosophy as “student centred” Salman said she approaches all her classroom lessons – be they on more theory-based subjects such as Research Methodologies and the Philsophy of Design, or studio-based courses like Moving Spaces – with a desire to instill in her students the same thirst for knowledge that’s driven her throughout her career.
“My teaching philosophy is to always create a positive, engaging and interactive environment with my students,” Salman said, noting that she likes to take a “storytelling” approach in the classroom.
“I always try to not only talk about what’s written on the slides or what’s scheduled for that day, but to always relate my lectures…to some of my own experiences and some of the stories I have in my life – stories that I hope can inspire them to be better designers, to be creative, and to help them as human beings to become better people and to be successful in their careers.”
As the BID program’s new chair, Salman said she hopes to build on the foundation established by her predecessors towards creating an “engaging and inspiring learning environment for students.”
“This will hopefully create an even more positive experience for new graduates as they prepare for the industry,” she said.
“And I also hope (our alumni) keep engaging with Yorkville University after graduation and keep updating us with their achievements, so we can celebrate them and showcase how beautiful and marvelous and great our program is.”