On July 1, 2021, the presidency of ACSA will pass on to the very capable Dean Robert González of the University of New Mexico, and I will transition to my new role as past president. While not what I anticipated when elected to this position, the past twelve months have been incredibly rewarding. Despite the conditions the pandemic has forced upon us with social distancing, remote education, and reconceived meetings and conferences in online formats, the year has seen several important accomplishments for ACSA that address the organization’s commitment to architectural education and equity within the discipline.
The effort most noticeable to the breadth of ACSA’s membership has been the ongoing effort to support the work of schools and faculty through the twists, turns, and abrupt platform changes necessitated by pandemic stay-at-home orders and the shifting landscape of online and hybrid education. Following the spring 2021 online conversations to discuss strategies and share resources for pandemic teaching, we offered several online summer gatherings to consider how members might address race and equity in their programs given the national awakening around racial injustice and our students’ calls for change in architectural education. Since March of 2020, ACSA has hosted an additional 21 webinars and online workshops on topics ranging from studio and classroom culture in online education, to accreditation, to culturally responsive teaching. All of these resources now exist as a repository to support faculty teaching and scholarship efforts.
Over the past year, the ACSA board and staff have also focused significant energies to reconsider what we do through the lens of racial equity. We have undertaken racial equity training with an outside consultant that has provided a common foundation and language for the collective reflection of our racial equity work. Highlights of this work include a series of keynotes and plenaries at our three major conferences. These presentations foregrounded important efforts in environmental justice in rural low-income communities of color; addressed Indigenous practices and pedagogies; discussed and compared educational experiences at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly White Institutions; and showcased the design philosophy and work of one of the most prolific Native American architects in North America, Johnpaul Jones, winner of the 2021 Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal. If you missed them, these keynote presentations can be viewed on the ACSA website.
This spring, acting on the organization’s stated commitment to equity and inclusion, volunteer tasks forces reviewed three ACSA awards that honor important milestones in faculty careers. This work is part of an ongoing effort to examine our programs and procedures with an eye toward removing invisible barriers and embedded biases. In May the ACSA Board of Directors approved changes to the Faculty Design Award, the Distinguished Professor Award, and the New Faculty Teaching Award effective for the 2022 Architectural Education Awards. I encourage you to review all of the ACSA Awards and consider identifying an appropriate candidate for one of more of the breadth of awards offered.
It has been my honor to serve the members of ACSA as the president. I thank you all for the faith placed in me when I was elected. I have marveled over the past year at the potential of the organization to initiate change through the many hundreds of members who serve in volunteer roles each year on the ACSA board, committees, juries, and peer review panels. The organization could not accomplish what it does without all who donate their time.
Finally, I end with a very special thanks to the ACSA staff, Eric, Danielle, Kendall, Carol, Michelle, Amanda, Edwin, and Madlyn, for all their hard work this year. Over the past three years, I have increasingly observed the volume of high-quality work produced by ACSA’s exceptional and thoughtful staff and by ACSA’s incredible executive director, Michael Monti. Due to Mike’s talent, diligence, and good humor, the organization makes continual progress in domains critical to future generations of architects, educators, and students. It has been a distinct pleasure to work closely with Mike and all the staff this year.
Photo: President Dearborn’s granddaughter graduating from preschool this spring.
Founded in 1912 by 10 charter members, ACSA is an international association of architecture schools preparing future architects, designers, and change agents. Our membership includes all of the accredited professional degree programs in the United States and Canada, as well as international schools and 2- and 4-year programs. Together ACSA schools represent some 7,000 faculty educating more than 40,000 students.
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