A Year in Review: Message from 2020-2021 NAAB President Marilys Nepomechie

As we conclude the 2020-21 governance year, I am honored to share an update on the work of the National Architectural Accrediting Board with a brief look at some of our accomplishments over the past 12 months. The NAAB closed 2020 and began 2021 by completing and approving the Strategic Plan that will guide the organization through 2023. The Board regards this three-year period as a pivotal time for promoting diversity, innovation, stakeholder engagement, and organizational sustainability, while addressing the NAAB’s core mission: Assuring quality in professional architecture education.

That important work is well underway. Over the past year, through the lens of the Strategic Plan and in the challenging context of a global pandemic, the NAAB has engaged in processes designed to anticipate and meet the needs of its diverse stakeholders while ensuring excellence in accreditation; strengthening its role as the voice for subject matter expertise in architecture accreditation and evaluation; refining its international engagement strategies; and laying the groundwork for long-term organizational vibrancy and fiscal sustainability.

To assist programs and visiting teams in the implementation of the 2020 Conditions and Procedures for Accreditation, the NAAB has created, presented, shared, and periodically updated extensive new resources.  Available on the NAAB’s Accreditation Resources webpage, these materials comprise a range of documents that include the Guidelines to the Accreditation Process; the Virtual Site Visit Supplement to the 2020 Conditions and Procedures; and updated Digital Guidelines to assist programs in preparing for initial and/or continuing accreditation review.  To assess and measure the impact of our 2020 Conditions and Procedures, NAAB has hosted regular focus group sessions with program administrators and members of our visiting teams.  These have allowed us to learn from their experiences, and in that process, to continuously improve NAAB’s work.

New resources created this year also include an expansive and growing roster of webinar/trainings for accreditation teams and architecture programs, as well as a constantly updated list of responses to frequently asked questions (see FAQ webpage). Launched initially as part of a well-received series of interactive online events, these materials are the hallmark of an engaged, responsive organization committed to assisting programs and working collaboratively with the academy and profession to assure quality in architecture education through accreditation. All are freely and fully accessible on the Events and Trainings page of NAAB’s newly updated website.  

Through the ongoing work of its Certification Task Force, the NAAB has committed to expanding efforts that promote unique institutional perspectives, and to advancing access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in accredited professional education. The task force has begun exploring possible avenues to identifying a role for the NAAB in facilitating students’ successful, efficient transition from pre-professional community college programs to accredited professional education in architecture.

Over the past year, NAAB has regularly engaged its stakeholders and collateral partners in numerous venues. We have participated in the new Six-Presidents’ Meeting of Architecture Organizations, including the leadership of ACSA, AIA, AIAS, NAAB, NCARB, and NOMA. NAAB has hosted the leadership of each of these organizations at our Board of Directors meetings as well as that of the CACB, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board, NAAB’s counterpart in Canada.  NAAB has been invited to present at multiple ACSA virtual conferences, often attracting over 100 participants to its sessions.  We were pleased to celebrate with NOMA as it marked its 50th Anniversary; and regularly engaged in the important work of several NCARB, ACSA, and multi-collateral committees and task forces as they addressed critical issues in professional architecture education and practice. The committees, task forces, and working groups of our Board regularly include members from across the academic, professional and regulatory communities, and NAAB’s accreditation procedures involve participants from all the Collateral Organizations. 

Since last October, the NAAB has completed multiple cycles of virtual Accreditation and International Certification visits under its most recent guiding documents; reviewed those documents as well as the processes and criteria for participation on visiting teams; and completed training materials for volunteers and academic program directors.  In the international arena, 2021 marks another milestone for our organization. NAAB will complete its 12-year term as Founding Secretariat of the Canberra Accord, a groundbreaking agreement created to facilitate the international portability of educational credentials in architecture. While NAAB’s commitment to continuing its role as a signatory of the Accord remains firm, NAAB is actively supporting the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) as it prepares to assume the responsibilities of Accord Secretariat in January 2022.

Organizationally, the past year has been characterized by parallel processes of reassessing and streamlining NAAB operations for effectiveness, efficiency, transparency, and long-term sustainability. Robust communication and engagement with our programs and volunteers, supported by an updated web presence, round out some of the key elements of our work in the area of operations.   

By any measure, it has been an extraordinarily productive year. With sincerest gratitude to our NAAB programs; the Board of Directors; our visiting teams and volunteers; our staff, and our collateral partners, without whose support this important work would not be possible, I look forward with pride and optimism to NAAB’s continued success. It has been a rewarding honor as well as an immense privilege to serve as the President of the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Marilys R. Nepomechie, FAIA, DPACSA, NCARB
2020-21 President