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From the President: The Year Ahead

August 16, 2018

July 1 is the date when the newly elected board members begin their service and when we thank those whose terms ended on June 30. Lynne Dearborn from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign joined the ACSA Board of Directors as Second Vice-President, Anne Bordeleau from the University of Waterloo as At-Large Canadian Director, Brigid Callaghan from AIAS as Student Director, Victor Rubin from PolicyLink as Public Director, and June Williamson from the City College of New York as At-Large Director.

As the new board began its work in earnest, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of now former board members and thank them once more for their dedicated service: a big THANK YOU to Martin Bressani, Bruce Lindsey, Francis Lyn, Ikhlas Sabouni, Elizabeth Seidel, and Nancy Tribbensee; it was a real pleasure to work with them (and to get to know them). I also want to thank Francisco (Paco) Rodriguez for his inspired and inspiring leadership of the association over the past year. As I succeed him in the role of President, I look forward to having his sage advice as Past President. Last but not least, I also want to thank Mike Monti, our outstanding Executive Director, and the amazing ACSA staff, who actually turn the board’s decisions into reality for our membership.

This board year will be a busy one, with several ongoing tasks and some new ones. The first meeting of the new board took place on August 6 and 7 in the AIA Building in Washington, where ACSA has its offices on the third floor. We have started to work on the new strategic plan and have engaged Suzanna Kelley from McKinley Advisors to facilitate the process this year, working with the Board and the Planning Committee. We have been also working with McKinley Advisors to explore changes to our membership structure, which is an ongoing task.

Preparations for the 2019 NAAB Accreditation Review Forum (AR Forum) are another ongoing issue. Bruce Lindsey, Rebecca O’Neal Dagg, and Michaele Pride are the members we appointed last spring to the NAAB’s Steering Committee for the Accreditation Review Forum; they will work closely with the Executive Committee to craft the organization’s outlook on architectural education to 2025. The Board looks forward to having collective conversations with the membership about desired changes in the next iteration of the NAAB conditions and procedures for accreditation.

The board’s Annual Meeting Task Force presented an initial set of recommendations for implementing changes to our largest event that should better support the scholarly needs of members and that should further enhance ACSA’s ability to lead architectural education and research. As a first step, the Board approved the creation of the Annual Meeting Committee (AMC) that will oversee the preparations for the 2020 Annual Meeting. Additional changes to the conference structure and the review process will be discussed over the coming months as AMC begins its work under the leadership of Rashida Ng, First Vice-President/President-Elect, as a committee chair.

The Board also approved specific charges for the three program committees this year. The Research and Scholarship Committee, chaired by Hazem Rashed-Ali from the University of Texas in San Antonio, will be tasked with preparing a report that summarizes existing practices used by member schools to measure research output. The Education Committee, chaired by Francis Lyn from Florida Atlantic University, will examine the presence of pedagogy and the scholarship of teaching and learning in our existing programming, and then recommend specific strategies for expanding their presence in our publications and conferences. The Leadership Committee, chaired by Barbara Klinkhammer from Thomas Jefferson University, is charged with developing a set of recommendations regarding ACSA’s international engagement, i.e., how the association should engage sibling organizations around the world, whether it should expand its international membership, and whether it should play a greater role in facilitating international activities of our member schools, such as recruitment, study abroad programs, faculty and student exchanges, and research and scholarly partnerships.

With this agenda in mind, we will sign later this month a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE), our sibling organization in Europe, which has 130 schools in Europe as its members. In collaboration with EAAE we intend to jointly organize the Teachers Conference, which, as its name implies, will focus on teaching, learning, and pedagogy. The inaugural event should take place next year in Antwerp, Belgium, at the end of June. The subsequent conferences would alternate between Europe and North America, with the hope of fostering greater exchange between our European colleagues and us.

The international engagement will be front and center at the upcoming Administrators Conference in Quebec City at the end of October. The conference is co-chaired by Myriam Blais from Université Laval and Sharon Matthews from Wentworth Institute of Technology. We have prepared a thematically rich event, with most of the sessions devoted to the international agenda: study abroad in different regions of the world, international research partnerships, exchanges of students and faculty, international student recruitment, etc. We hope that you will join us there to share how your school is engaging the world.

If you want to “play with the rules” then plan to attend the Fall Conference in mid-October in Milwaukee. The team of co-chairs from the University of Wisconsin, Jasmine Benyamin, Nikole Bouchard, Whitney Moon, Kyle Reynolds, and Mo Zell, asked rhetorically in the call for papers whether architects could re-think both rules and play (and that was not the only question). As described on the ACSA’s website, the conference posits a series of questions in light of the exhibition “Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America” that opens in September at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). This exhibition “will explore a variety of designers who embraced the spirit of whimsy, arguing that during a time of high anxiety in the United States, one solution was to design playfully.” So, come to Milwaukee to see the exhibition and hear the presentations and panels that address the conference questions.

After Milwaukee and Quebec City this coming October, we will be assembling in March in Pittsburgh for the 2019 Annual Meeting, which will be followed in early June by the Intersections Symposium at the 2019 AIA Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas and the inaugural 2019 ACSA/EAAE Teachers Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, which is still in the works. All three promise to be the most interesting gatherings that shouldn’t be missed.

As you can surmise from this brief outline, there is much to look forward to in the year ahead of us. I certainly do so, as I work alongside Mike Monti, our Executive Director, Paco as Past President, the two Presidents-Elects, Rashida and Lynne, and the entire board.

We have a lot on our plate, so stay tuned…

Branko Kolarevic, ACSA President

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