At the ACSA Administrators Conference in Philadelphia today we made an important announcement that ACSA and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) are exploring a merger that would change the funding and governance model of the two organizations.
This proposed merger is intended to strengthen architectural education, and is the result of over a year of discussions among NAAB, ACSA, AIA, NCARB, and AIAS leadership—the collateral organizations that provide most of NAAB’s funding and nominate a large majority of its board of directors.
While no final agreements have been made—a formal merger requires a number of approvals by the ACSA and NAAB boards, the ACSA membership, as well as the boards of AIA and NCARB—we believe it is appropriate to announce our deliberations and to begin a conversation among the membership.
The working model for the merger would create an umbrella Council for Architectural Education that holds financial responsibility for all ACSA and NAAB activities but delegates most oversight and operational responsibility to the boards of directors for the respective groups. This means that the ACSA board would continue its role working through our membership to shape architectural education. Similarly, the NAAB would have independent responsibility to set and apply accreditation standards and for its current international activities, such as the Education Evaluation Services for Architects process.
Neither the ACSA nor the NAAB board would have authority over the other, and with limited exceptions, the Council for Architectural Education would not have the authority to replace board members for ACSA or NAAB, nor will it have the authority to override accreditation decisions. Instead, the Council will manage the financial and human resources of the organization and coordinate long-term planning activities.
The ACSA Board of Directors believes that a merger will strengthen architectural education and better support architecture schools. We see this opportunity in a broader context of change within the architecture profession and higher education over the past several years. In the context of education we all acknowledge the challenges of constrained budgets and growing needs and expectations for student learning, research, and service. Both organizations alone have a role to play in helping schools to respond to these challenges and opportunities. A merger of ACSA and NAAB is intended to take advantage of complementary organizational strengths by enhancing information and research capacities and strengthening the scholarship of teaching. ACSA will continue its many peer-review activities, and we will continue to expand our efforts to demonstrate the value of architectural education to prospective students and the broader public.
The ACSA and NAAB board have each appointed three board members to serve on a task force with the ACSA and NAAB executive directors, who have been working together since April on this new organizational model.
The ACSA board is committed to having numerous opportunities for member input over the next several months, leading up to the ACSA Annual Business Meeting on Friday, March 20, in Toronto. We will hold a series of discussions about the merger, its impact on member schools, and the decisions that ACSA members will need to make. ACSA regional directors will be in touch through your Faculty Councilors and administrators with details on the new opportunities a potential merger can create.
We thank you for your attention to these matters and invite your feedback as we continue forward.
Hsinming Fung, President
Marilys R. Nepomechie, Vice President/President-Elect
Norman R. Millar, Past President
Michael J. Monti, Executive Director