Note: This report is adapted from President Dennis S. Ward’s 2016 Annual Business Meeting speech.
While this is the point where the outgoing president would reflect on his or her year, I would rather use this time to share our accomplishments—what we as a community have done—as we stay true to our mission and our core values.
Each evolutionary step in moving forward has been based on engagement by the community that is NCARB. Thanks to all of you, the licensure steps known as the three Es—education, experience, and examination—all reflect a renewed focus on rigor for a reason and relevance to candidates and the public they protect.
This year, we have put the finishing touches on a streamlined experience program. This effort is the result of multiple years of work by our committees and several NCARB Boards, and through feedback at each step by the comments of our Member Boards.
These latest adjustments build on earlier actions, including:
We also are very close to launching a new version of our exam, known as ARE 5.0., employing new testing methodologies that will allow candidates to focus on knowledge and skills—not drafting abilities and seat time. Again, our community of volunteers, Member Boards, and NCARB Boards, along with our staff, made this possible.
The new ARE 5.0 will launch on November 1! We will continue to spend summer and early fall ramping up our outreach to candidates, Member Boards, and the test prep community.
And with the fundamental “E” of education, a true community effort has yielded the first cohort of the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) participating programs.
We also have recognized that building a community requires ongoing work.
Our community continues to expand. Through direct engagement with leaders from the architectural collaterals, we have had important discussions regarding the future of accreditation, the role of the academy, the ability to encourage more diversity, and support for student engagement as licensing advisors and as leaders making a difference for people with disabilities.
Our conversations have extended to our counterparts in engineering and landscape architecture. We are extending our reach to code officials. We have asserted our leadership as a prime thought leader in this time of reassessing the value of regulation and licensure. Our efforts continue to grow internationally:
Community is not just a physical concept, but a relational one. We have embraced the virtual communities that exist in social media, through the thousands who participate in our online communities, our blog, or via our NCARB Live webcasts. And yes, some of the best examples remain a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, a sidebar conversation after an outreach presentation on a campus, or an email response that is thorough and timely.
We are also working to make our community stronger by focusing on issues like ethics and program enhancements to the NCARB Certificate. Last year I announced an effort to bring a renewed emphasis on ethics within our profession. To that end I established an Ethics Task Force led by Past President Dale McKinney to identify deficiencies; review how other professions address this topic; and develop processes to emphasize its importance and integration throughout all aspects of education, experience, and practice. I am excited to say that their preliminary work has been fruitful and the entire task force will remain together as they enter the next phase.
We have also seen new momentum around bringing additional benefits to the NCARB Certificate. I charged every committee and task force this year to brainstorm and recommend how the benefits of the Certificate might be increased beyond that of mobility. The suggestions have been overwhelming—some easily implemented, such as our new mini-monograph program—others will take time. You will be hearing more from Kristine Harding later in this meeting as to where we go from here with the rich data gathered from this exercise.
I am also part of a very important micro-community—our Board of Directors. It has been a privilege, and an education, to sit at the table and preside during this past year. We debate, we persuade, we process, and we re-evaluate. But most importantly, we take our fiduciary responsibilities very seriously. We are rebuilding our reserves; streamlining our fee structure, including reduction of some fees; and increasing our financial security. We are prepared to maintain critical services for our Member Boards and our customers. And along the way I’ve reinforced old friendships and made new ones that will last a lifetime. The same holds true with the wonderful staff and all of you dedicated volunteers. What a rich mosaic we have!
I have truly been blessed to serve as your president. But as John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” For an architect with a small practice in rural South Carolina, I can say that I took full advantage of this opportunity to give back to this community: to you, our Member Boards, over 100,000 Record holders, the profession, and the public.
But as I reflect on our community, I am reminded that the two people I most admire are not here with me: my parents. They instilled in me the values that I carry with me today—to always do what is right even if that is not the easiest path. To never say that you have done your best, because you can always do better. And to never hold yourself as better than someone, but never as less as well. I know that they would be particularly proud of my emphasis on ethics and on always working to improve our programs. That belief system has taught me that regardless of where we went to school, how we gained our experience or how we got licensed, a license is a license. We are all equal.
With this belief system as a foundation, at NCARB we have developed a community culture of expecting our leaders to dream, collaborate, and work together prior to, and well beyond, their presidential years. I have been a fan and collector of Seattle’s famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, for many years. Chihuly says, “I don’t think much about the past. I think more about the future.” And that’s what I’ve taken from my experiences working with past presidents like Scott Veazey, Ron Blitch, Blake Dunn, Dale McKinney, and others before them—along with future leaders here in this room.
It is important that as a community, we keep focused on that blue sky—developing vision, identifying goals, and implementing processes. With each accomplishment we have identified the path, charted the course, and reached the summit—only to find there are many more summits before us.
So let me close with these parting thoughts. Rather than resting on past accomplishments, I challenge you to continue the journey with renewed vigor. Realize that we have instituted a strong foundation in this community that we’ve created and nurtured. If we do this, the path will widen and the hills will become less steep. We must not be afraid of change. One thing in life that is certain is that there will always be change. Either we adjust, or find ourselves irrelevant and left behind. I, for one, would rather make change than react to it.
Thank you for your faith in me. Thank you for your support. And most of all, thank you for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Watch President Ward address the
Council at the 2016 NCARB Annual Business Meeting.
Learn more about 2015–2016 NCARB President Dennis Ward, FAIA, NCARB.
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