In collaboration with the team of dedicated colleagues who serve as the NAAB Board of Directors, it is an honor to begin my term of service as 2020-21 President.
Over the past eight months, in response to global challenges in public health, and in support of our academic programs, NAAB deferred accreditation visits for one calendar year, and pivoted to virtual site visits until 2023. The NAAB has developed new protocols for virtual visits, bolstered by new team training combined with targeted program mentorship. These actions were taken to prevent significant delays in accreditation due to the pandemic; to ensure that programs and teams are informed and prepared; to ensure that visit experiences are consistent and confidential; and to protect the health of students, faculty, academic administrators, and visiting teams.
NAAB’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan identifies key areas of board action. First among these is the successful launch of program assessments under the 2020 Conditions and Procedures for Accreditation. Product of the broadly inclusive ARForum19, the 2020 Conditions and Procedures are the new guiding documents of NAAB’s peer review process. To ensure excellence in accreditation, the NAAB strategic plan undertakes a broad agenda of outreach, support, mentorship, and partnership with our accredited programs in architecture. NAAB will increase its focus on fostering a collaborative relationship with programs; on greater communication; and on creating new opportunities to engage with the NAAB and with peer programs around best practices.
Over the coming year, in support of our programs and our mission, the NAAB will leverage critical investments in technology to manage the accreditation process with increasing innovation, transparency, cost-effectiveness, and responsiveness. We believe new tools will also assist NAAB in developing an increasingly holistic understanding of the key drivers of change in architecture education, as these impact our accredited programs.
Our new strategic plan also foregrounds NAAB’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion –through the documents that guide our work with programs, and through our efforts to ensure that our governing board, our visiting teams, committees, and task forces more fully reflect the diversity of our society. To advance access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in accredited professional education, NAAB will explore new paths to an accredited professional degree by engaging community colleges and pre-professional programs through certification. Finally, NAAB is committed to expanding conversations about the future of the profession of architecture, and proud to form part of the inaugural organizational summit of architecture associations, including the leadership of our colleagues at ACSA, AIA, AIAS, NCARB, and NOMA.
Our current opportunities to improve quality assessment in architecture education are exceptional. Many of these would not have existed without the transformative work of our predecessor boards, to whom we are grateful. The sustained commitment our academic and professional communities bring to the continued success of our mission is a constant point of pride for the NAAB.
In that spirit, and wishing everyone the best for the holiday season and the coming year, we look forward to the work ahead.
Marilys R. Nepomechie, FAIA, DPACSA, NCARB