Faculty Spotlight: Associate Dean and Professor C. Ben Farrow
Ben Farrow has been serving as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and International Programs in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) since 2016 and was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor this fall. Farrow is a believer that the best educators are also life-long learners, so he stays busy researching the constantly changing field of higher education.
Farrow holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Duke University, a Master of Civil Engineering from the University of Texas and an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt. In 2016, he earned a doctorate in Adult Education from Auburn, an experience he said was invaluable. “Earning the doctorate reinforced so many things I have seen in academia,” he stated. “It confirmed the importance of evidence-based decision making and leadership and the need for collaboration and teamwork. It also made me realize at a deep level that the field of education is constantly evolving. It is critical that administrators like me engage in continuous learning.”
In that vein, Farrow now focuses his research on strategies for improving learning and assessment within construction education. As a faculty member in the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI), Farrow is working with a group of construction management educators to explore classroom case studies on how students learn from ongoing challenges in design and construction in an active learning environment. He is also continuing his work with colleagues Tom Leathem and Eric Wetzel to identify academic experiences that resonate with construction management graduates long after they leave school.
His days as Associate Dean are filled with overseeing student recruitment, curriculum, enrollment management, academic advising and more, and he also facilitates CADC’s study abroad programs. But among these many administrative duties, Farrow still manages to fit in some additional research. He is working with BSCI Academic Advisor Katie Smith to explore the large number of college credits incoming students have earned before even starting their freshman year. “We have seen incredible growth in the number of credit hours students have on arrival at Auburn, and we need to better understand those credits,” he explained. “There is an opportunity to improve the student experience either by educating high school students on what credits to pursue or exploring our curricula to see where we might have flexibility on accepting additional student credit hours.”
Farrow has been active for many years in Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) and just finished his term as president in 2022, having led the organization through the challenges of Covid-19. Before stepping down as president, he had been involved in ASC as either director or an officer for 15 years. While he does miss having that level of involvement, he says he is excited to be involved in planning and hosting the organization’s annual conference that will be held at Auburn this coming spring. “I’ve enjoyed being a small part of the team that will execute that event. It will be great to share with colleagues from across the globe some of the awesome things going on at Auburn!”
While research and administrative duties take much of his time, Farrow does try to get back into the classroom as often as possible, and he recently led a study away trip for students in the Master of Real Estate Development program. However, he finds great value in his day-to-day interactions with faculty, staff and students. “The collaborative nature of working at Auburn and the CADC is exciting and fun, and my experience is that the best solutions are often the ones that are developed through teamwork,” he said. “That teamwork often fosters a positive and productive learning environment where everyone can thrive, and I am excited to continue to be a part of that.”