2017-2018 President/Chair of the Board
2nd Vice President
1st Vice President
Gregory L. Erny, FAIA, NCARB, Hon. FCARM
Note: This report is adapted from President Gregory L. Erny’s 2018 Annual Business Meeting speech.
The past several years have seen great accomplishments for the Council, and as president of NCARB in 2017-2018, I had the opportunity to see a number of our recent program changes and initiatives come to fruition. I have also had the honor of engaging with our members, customers, collaterals, and other leaders in the profession throughout the year on behalf of the organization.
Almost immediately after the 2017 Annual Business Meeting, I had the privilege of representing NCARB at the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Grassroots Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. Meeting with the future of our profession and being infused with a healthy dose of their unbridled optimism and enthusiasm was a perfect way to kick off a year of ambitious ventures into new programs and initiatives. Having the opportunity to engage again with students at the annual AIAS Forum in December cemented my belief that the next generation will be great stewards both of the profession and the public’s trust.
This past year has afforded me the opportunity to represent you at a number of international gatherings, starting with the International Union of Architects (UIA) in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to the multicultural aspect of participating in a gathering of architects from around the world, this event afforded us the ability to gain insight and perspective on how varied the process of blending education, experience, and examination into a licensure process is handled in other countries around the globe. I can assure you that the licensure process crafted by our 54 jurisdictions is as rigorous and comprehensive as any in the world.
We traveled to London to initiate a new reciprocity opportunity with the United Kingdom, and also to Oaxaca, Mexico, to reinforce our relationship with our friends south of the border in our Tri-National Agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States. My takeaway from both of these experiences is that architects and architectural regulators outside the United States have great respect for not only how we incorporate rigor into our process, but also how our process remains agile and evolving. Both the Mexicans and Canadians are very curious about our Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) initiative and our certification program and its different alternative paths.
In addition, changes to the former Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) program have resulted in an unprecedented surge in foreign licensees applying for NCARB certification through the refreshed alternative path. Similarly, our changes from the old Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) program to a refreshed alternative to certify licensees who have met the Education Standard through a combination of non-accredited education and extra experience, have provided a mobility option to scores of architects in the two years since the refreshed programs were implemented. In the two years since we moved from the older, more costly, subjective, and time-consuming programs to these clearer paths, the response has been overwhelming. We are already way past the totals reached in almost two decades of the old programs, meeting our strategic goal to facilitate licensure.
Along with this trend, NCARB and its Member Boards are seeing record numbers of candidates in the licensure pipeline—in part due to a good economy, but also due to our reinvented programs that are more relevant and more logical to those who are attracted to our profession. This bodes well for the future, and more importantly, it reinforces the importance of what our boards do to protect the public. Thanks to this strong pipeline, which continues to exceed all of our expectations, we also saw a positive impact on our budget this fiscal year.
This new and compelling interest in both the architectural profession and the need for architectural services has given us new ammunition and new inspiration in our efforts to combat ill-informed attempts at diluting the role of regulation. Thanks to our team of staff, local professional organizations, and many of our volunteers, efforts to undermine our licensure framework have been rebuffed. The national conversation regarding the value of regulation is appropriately refocusing on a discussion that informs the distinction between professional licensure and occupational certification, and the appropriate role of reasonable regulation in each. We have helped articulate this transformation, and it has been my privilege to both encourage and support these successful efforts over the past year.
Earlier this year, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit my alma mater, Ball State University, in Indiana. I was accompanied by one of this year’s medal winners, our former Examination Assistant Director Ryan Misner, who is also a Ball State graduate. Ryan and I met with students, hosted an outreach event, and heard a newer and increasingly familiar refrain. Simply put, it’s that our programs are more realistic and relevant, more accessible, and are doing a better job at preparing people to qualify for licensure.
That may sound obvious, but let’s think about this for a moment. It wasn’t so long ago that complaints about the exam, the old Intern Development Program (IDP), and the general inflexibility and inefficiency of the licensure process was a common occurrence. Now when we do surveys, talk with folks in the field, and monitor social media—in and of itself a great improvement—we hear words of praise, and we hear thanks.
That’s due to all of you. Over the years, NCARB’s board members and volunteers have seen fit to refine, evolve, and reinvent our licensure tool box in a way that is making a meaningful difference.
I mentioned the IPAL program previously. Let me tell you another story about a trip I took a few months ago to Orlando, Florida, to participate in the convocation ceremonies celebrating the first graduates to complete the IPAL program. Three graduates, who had taken long breaks in their career path before entering the University of Florida’s M.Arch. program at CityLab-Orlando, completed the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™) and passed all six Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 divisions by the time they graduated. In addition, we’ve had similar graduations in North Carolina. This is just the beginning. In the coming years we will see scores of others doing the same thing; currently there are over 400 students in IPAL options nationwide and over 60 currently testing. This is no longer an idea, but a reality. The program is not only providing an opportunity to pursue a concentrated, overlapping path that preserves all the same rigor, but it is also pulling people back into licensure who had otherwise given up. The CityLab-Orlando program is also an example of how the two-year community college system can be integrated into IPAL, allowing students with financial challenges an affordable option for both an architectural education and an integrated path to licensure.
We have much to discuss and consider, both in immediate business and also where our travels may take us in the future. This year we have voted on resolutions that look to further refine our policies and programs. We have acted on the recommendations of the Ethics Task Force, which sunset in December 2017, by proposing a refresh and revival of our Rules of Conduct. We are handing off recommendations from our Resiliency Work Group, also sunset in December, into the NCARB bloodstream via committee charges and staff assignments. The work of the Council continues in our never-ending desire to go further.
And go further we shall. With new initiatives in the areas of supervisor training, a professional practice survey, NCARB Scholars in Professional Practice, the NCARB Creativity in Academia Award, and a new engagement with recently licensed architects in our Re-Think Tank, we are tossing new pebbles into the pond, and who knows where those ripples will take us.
We have continued our efforts to build coalitions both inside the architecture world and further afield to other regulatory bodies, including those supporting engineering, landscape architecture, interior design, and code compliance. I stood up an Interior Architecture Work Group, which is seeking a path forward on how to provide useful and implementable perspectives on titles and scope. Thanks to President-elect David Hoffman, I will be joining that August group for its second year.
Speaking of your incoming president, I must acknowledge David Hoffman, my wingman this year, as an essential partner, a meticulous and dedicated volunteer, and wonderful traveling companion. He and the rest of our devoted Board of Directors have worked tirelessly, fearlessly, and frankly, engaging in thoughtful, in-depth discussions about issues on the horizon that impact our financial health, our strategic focus, our programmatic priorities, and the necessities of disciplinary action and clearer policies. Our meetings have been very full, very robust, and very rewarding.
I must also thank our CEO Michael Armstrong for his dedication and hard work on behalf of this organization. During the course of the year, we spent a lot of time traveling, talking, emailing, and texting. Throughout this incredibly rewarding adventure, Mike had great patience and perception in knowing when and how to engage my participation as I balanced the challenges of the role of president with running my practice.
The successes of this organization would not be possible without the efforts of our amazing staff, our extremely dedicated and unselfish team of committee members and volunteers, and the ongoing engagement of all of our Member Board Members and Member Board Executives.
Today NCARB stands at the threshold of its second century. For nearly 100 years, we have been working to provide our licensing board members with the best tools that our collective efforts can provide. We have encouraged debate, we have questioned relevance and whether things are working effectively, and we have become increasingly better at telling our story.
So now is not the time to say goodbye, but rather, to say keep pushing. The world is changing rapidly, and we must do our best to adapt to this era of accelerations. A while ago, our CEO asked a number of us to read Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late, which I noticed my friend Carl Elefante, 2018 American Institute of Architects (AIA) President, quoted in his ARCHITECT magazine column. Friedman calls out regulation—and yes, even architecture—in his discussion of how to recalibrate the relationship between human capacity to adapt and the ever-quickening pace of change spurred by technology.
Let’s do that. Let’s stay ahead of constant change as the norm and get comfortable with how that can work for us instead of against us. We are learning how to better communicate with our stakeholders, elected officials, and those who rely on the valuable services provided by our profession. We have a more compelling story to tell. Our story is not only relevant and persuasive, it is the right story. Thanks to all of our members and volunteers for their part in making it so!
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Watch President Erny address the
Council at the 2018 NCARB Annual Business Meeting.