ACSA Governance

Proposal to Change the Board of Directors

March 2017

The ACSA Board of Directors is pleased to share a proposal for changing our governance structure to better enable the organization to lead architectural education and research. The proposal would shift the board’s seven regionally elected directors to a set of at-large directors, nominated and elected by the membership based on multiple criteria.

We invite all member school faculty to review and comment on the proposal, either at the ACSA Annual Meeting, March 23–25 in Detroit, or from your own campuses via email to feedback@acsa-arch.org by Friday, March 24, at 5 pm Eastern. Based on your feedback the ACSA board will decide whether to send bylaws amendments to schools in April for a membership vote.

The proposal caps a three-year effort to revise our governance structure and renew the means by which we serve our members.

Timeline of Steps
Fall 2015—Create More Continuity
Bylaws amendments lengthened the vice president’s term to 2 years, combined secretary and treasurer positions.

Spring 2016—Make the Organization More Responsive and Engaged With Members
The ACSA board created a new strategic plan and established new working committees. Populated by ACSA members and board members, the committees are intended to better respond to member needs and make progress on strategic plan goals.

Now—Recalibrate the Board and Nominations Process to Become More Nimble and Effective
Assemble a diverse board of directors based on a range of competencies and demographic characteristics. Revamp the nominations process to better recruit volunteers at all levels of the organization.

Proposed Changes

  1. From Regional Directors to At-Large Directors. Remove the “geographically defined constituent associations” that structure our board of directors, replacing the seven regionally elected directors with five directors elected by the entire membership. Director terms will be staggered. Current regional directors will complete their existing terms, and new at-large directors will join gradually over three years.
  2. Recruiting Future Talent. Create a single nominating committee for all board positions, and strengthen the nominations process by emphasizing the connection between board member skills and backgrounds with the organization’s strategic goals.
  3. Working Committees. Make permanent the three new program committees—Research & Scholarship, Education, and Leadership—established last year to involve more members in implementing the strategic plan and recommending future actions by the board of directors.


FAQs

What is the proposed change?
The proposal changes the composition of the Board of Directors. The proposal transitions the six regionally elected directors and one appointed Canadian director to five at-large directors elected by the entire membership. The proposal follows from changes made last year to create three Program Committees that involve ACSA members not serving on the board. The Program Committees are charged with implementing the organization’s strategic plan. Chairs of the Program Committees will continue to be non-board members and will participate in ACSA board activities from time to time to ensure they understand and contribute to discussions about the strategic direction of the organization.
What does the change achieve?
Together the changes are intended to make ACSA more nimble and more effective in leading change in architectural education. The smaller sized board will focus more intently on strategic and fiduciary responsibilities, while the Program Committees will focus on measurable outcomes that follow from the board’s governance.
Why stop having regional directors?
In short, the ACSA board seeks a more intentional basis for carrying out the mission of leading architectural education and research. Based on feedback from the membership over the past couple of years, geography is only one among many characteristics that link schools and their faculty. The new board structure will allow the organization to recruit and nominate individuals for board service based on multiple characteristics.
Will you stop having regions?
We will continue to use regions in our activities. The regional caucuses at the Annual Meeting will continue as a way to gain feedback. We will also continue to use regions as a way of grouping and analyzing our membership.
But the schools in my region have cohesion.
Regional connections will continue to be encouraged through annual caucuses and other means that the board prefers. Those connections are supported by the ACSA, but they don’t exist because of ACSA. Currently, not many regional activities happen through ACSA programs. ACSA strengthens the membership through other kinds of affinities.
What about the Canadian Director?
Under the proposal, at least one at-large director must come from a Canadian full-member school. Currently, the Canadian Director is nominated by the Canadian Council of University Schools of Architecture, which is effectively composed of the administrative heads of the Canadian schools. In the new system, CCUSA would recommend a minimum of two candidates for the at-large Canadian position on the board, and the full ACSA membership would vote to select the director.
How do I get in touch with the board if there is no director for my region?
We will continue to assign board members to liaison with schools. Each year directors will introduce themselves to the faculty councilors and administrators at assigned schools. Members are also welcome to contact any member of the ACSA board throughout the year.
How are board members elected?
The full membership votes for all eligible board slots from a competitive slate of at least two candidates, following an extensive nominating process. Currently, only schools in a region can vote for their regional director or participate in the regional director nominating process.
What criteria will you use to pick candidates?
Geographic diversity will be one among multiple criteria to use in identifying candidates for the board. School setting, race/ethnicity, gender are others. These would be codified in the organization’s policies.
What if you don’t keep having a regionally diverse board?
The nominations process will change so that the slate of candidates will be announced in early November. The membership will have multiple weeks to petition the Governance Committee to add additional names to the ballot.
How do I become a board member?
Each year ACSA will publish a call for volunteers. Responses will go to the Nominations Committee, and names will be held in the pool for multiple years. The Nominations Committee will recommend candidates for open board positions, and respondents to the call will also be eligible for membership on ACSA’s committees, task forces, and peer review bodies. In short, the best path to becoming a board member starts by volunteering as a review, committee member, conference host, etc.



A New Strategic Plan

The ACSA Board of Directors voted in July to adopt and implement a new strategic plan, following on a yearlong effort to rewrite the document to make the organization more nimble and effective in carrying out its new mission statement: to lead architectural education and research. 

In addition to adopting the strategic plan, we have also revised our committee structure to involve more ACSA members. Three new program committees will be appointed for 2016-17, with specific charges tied to the strategic plan. We will share more information on these committee activities in future weeks, as the new academic year begins.

And if you didn't see President Bruce Lindsey's introduction of the strategic plan, please read here

Governance Change Background

In 2014-15 the ACSA board decided to engage in governance review to better serve ACSA members by making the ACSA Board:

  • More nimble in its ability to address emerging issues.
  • More effective in carrying out initiatives by sustaining them.
  • More responsive to member needs.
  • More engaged with the fundamental mission and purposes of the organization. 

Multiple Phases of Change

Fall 2015

Lengthen the vice president’s term to 2 years to provide more continuity

2015-16

Revise the strategic plan to position the organization for stronger leadership. 

Revise the committees to become 
more responsive, engaged with the membership.

2016-17

Implement the committee structure and strategic plan.

2017-18

Revisit the composition of the board to become
more nimble, effective.