I have heard that at the end of their tenure, some organization officers have the sense that the time of their service passed at lightning speed. Closing out my year of service, my sense is that time has certainly not flown by, and that is a good thing, as much has been accomplished.
Program Site Visits
The largest cycle of 32 accreditation visits under the 2020 Conditions and Procedures and two International Certification (ICert) visits was completed earlier this spring. Fourteen accreditation visits and one ICert visit are currently underway in the fall 2023 cycle while NAAB staff simultaneously plan for 18 accreditation and ICert in-person site visits that will be held in spring 2024. Each visit cycle benefits from the lessons learned through previous cycles.
At its fall Board Meeting, NAAB will make decisions on one Eligibility application, 31 programs seeking Continuing Accreditation, evaluate 15 Plans to Correct, and make decisions on two ICert programs.
Training and Program Resources
NAAB has developed and implemented a training program for visiting teams and team chairs. This program includes live virtual orientation meetings, online training modules in our learning management system, and helpful resources including a Visiting Team handbook and various templates to help the team prepare for and conduct the visit. and is convenient, accessible, and continually improving. Seasoned and newly minted team members access annual training refresher courses to stay current with visit requirements and procedural updates.
NAAB is always looking to develop new and improved resources for programs. Of particular success has been attendance and participation in our Accreditation “Office Hours”, the monthly webinar hosted by NAAB Accreditation staff. These in-depth sessions specifically address programs’ accreditation questions and concerns, and feedback from the programs has been very positive. In response, NAAB has added a second monthly “Office Hours” to serve program directors and faculty across multiple time zones and to provide additional opportunities for engagement with NAAB staff and board members and peer-to-peer networking.
As part of continuous assessment and improvement, accredited programs submit Annual Report to demonstrate on-going compliance with NAAB Conditions for Accreditation. Additionally, programs that have not fully met Conditions for Accreditation are required to submit Plans to Correct in response to the outcomes of recent accreditation reviews. Through this process, programs are able to receive timely feedback from NAAB to facilitate program improvement.
Assisting the Board in review of the 175 Annual Reports, evaluation of Plans to Correct and other recurring submittals will be the newly appointed Accreditation Review Committee, consisting of NAAB volunteers who have served on at least one accreditation visit. Selected to assure diversity of professional background, ethnic representation, geographical location, and gender balance, they will support the Board of Directors with reviews requiring subject-matter expertise. NAAB is pleased to welcome the inaugural group of 25 ARC members.
As part of the capacity building and streamlining of the accreditation process, NAAB has begun a graduated implementation of NAAB’s Accreditation Management System earlier this year. Starting with the Annual Report module, this software will simplify and “automate” the accreditation process. NAAB is looking to implement additional modules for submission and review of Architecture Program Reports (APR), Visiting Team Reports (VTR) and other accreditation related documentation by the end of 2024.
NAAB representatives have attended and participated in several of our partners’ events as well as accreditation-focused meetings:
- Participated in the NCARB Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL, providing general updates on NAAB.
- Addressed a plenary session at the AIAS Grassroots meeting in Washington D.C., conveying the importance of student participation in accreditation teams and relating the importance of NAAB accreditation to students.
- Attended and participated in the ACSA Annual meeting in Philadelphia.
- Attended and participated virtually in the bi-annual Canberra Accord meeting held in Hong Kong.
- Attended and participated in the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) Annual Conference held in Washington D.C.
- Attended and participated in the Architectural Alliance meeting held twice yearly at NCARB offices in Washington, D.C.
- At the invitation of the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), virtually participated in the session on review and revision of accreditation standards.
As we prepare for accreditation and ICert visits next year, we are looking forward to the return of teams physically visiting campuses and meeting face-to-face for the first time in four years. While virtual visits served a purpose during the pandemic, team members really appreciate and look forward to interacting with programs’ students, faculty, staff, and administrations as well as experiencing the learning environments the schools provide. NAAB is taking advantage of some of the efficiencies realized from virtual meetings and has incorporated them into the current accreditation procedures to allow early review of program information and evidence to facilitate coordination among team members and program representatives. With 23 accreditation and six ICert visits scheduled for next year, we are grateful to our robust team pool of volunteers who dedicate their efforts to support the NAAB accreditation process.
I offer my heart-felt recognition to all of NAAB’s volunteers: the new, qualified team members, the experienced team members and team leaders, the committed reviewers who are believers in the accreditation process, the committee leaders and participants, and our dedicated Board of Directors, all who collectively donate thousands of hours to the effort. Their specialized experience and understanding of the needs of our profession, the needs of the programs. And the needs of students in those programs is unique, irreplaceable, and priceless. Thank you so much for everything!
NAAB recognizes and appreciates that additional volunteers are needed to enlarge the visiting team pool, to assist with preliminary reviews of program materials, to participate on working committees and to serve on the Board of Directors. Please visit our “Volunteer with NAAB” page if you are interested in participating in the architecture accreditation world; we need you.
Equally important as NAAB’s volunteers is our wonderful staff. Their tireless commitment to supporting the national accreditation effort as well as the myriad programs, administration responsibilities, Board support, scheduling, financial monitoring and control, and so much more is outstanding.
A huge thank you to all who make NAAB accreditation possible.
David L. Hoffman, FAIA, NCARB, CRRP, CRX, CDP Hon. FCARM
2022–2023 NAAB President