August 20, 2019

The 2018-2019 AIAS Board of Directors (BoD) held their final Board Meeting in Washington, D.C., on July 17th.  The outgoing and incoming Boards were able to think proactively and discuss a wide range of topics and initiatives that would inevitably have a lasting impact on the organization.  The current Board Members were able to look critically at the existing AIAS portfolio of member benefits, programming, and events, while highlighting to our future leaders the synergy and constructive deliberations that are possible in the Boardroom.

In addition, the 2019-2020 Council of Presidents (CoP) met on July 21st to conduct relevant discussions surrounding the future of architectural education and the organization.  In an attempt at maximizing transparency from the National level to the Chapter level, here is a recap of what was discussed and what was voted on at both the BoD and CoP Meetings in D.C.!

BoD Actions + Decisions Made

  • The Board reviewed the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year budget-to-date and held a discussion regarding the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year budget draft.  Executive Director Israelsen will be presenting a final FY20 budget to the FY20 Board of Directors for approval at an August Special Board Call.
  • The Board amended the Rules of the Board to allow for budget adoption to take place “no later than 15 days before the end of the prior fiscal year” as opposed to “at its Grassroots meeting”.  This amendment allows for an additional month of Budget modification, if necessary, and will allow the incoming 2019-2020 Board of Directors to garner a better understanding of the AIAS operating budget going into their term.
  • As per Rules of the Board Section 2.22 Annual Dues Adjustment, the Board performed a review of dues amounts for all classes of membership.  Dues amounts were not modified for the 2019-2020 membership year.
    • The Board charged the Membership Committee with exploring the need to increase regular and associate member dues.  Regular member dues are currently $47 + local dues.
  • The Board approved a new governing Public Policy document for the AIAS that was crafted by the 2018-2019 Governance Committee.  This new document will equip the AIAS with guidance for actions that have been objectively considered in anticipation of problems and opportunities.  Being long-range in scope, these policies have a stability that intends to ensure decisions will be consistent with those made previously or those that will be made in the future.
  • The Board amended the Rules of the Board to modify the time requirement for Board review of new Public Policy statements.  Going forward, only a 21-day review period will be required after the first reading of a proposed policy.
  • The Board also amended the Rules of the Board to allow additional staff members, as approved by the Board, to serve as authorized signatories on AIAS financial accounts.  Previously, only the Executive Director, the Vice President, and the President could serve in this capacity. 

Ongoing BoD Discussions

  • The Board continued their discussions surrounding existing and potential opportunities for increased AIAS Member benefits and member value specifically for Community College members and High School members in conjunction with a thorough analysis of our existing organizational membership breakdown by membership type.
  • The Board and Board-elect engaged in the fourth and final discussion in anticipation of the 2019-2020 Board’s participation in the 2019 Accreditation Review Forum taking place in Chicago on July 24-26, 2019.  The AIAS Board recognizes the importance of the student voice in all issues pertaining to architectural education. Upon review of Draft 00 of the NAAB Conditions and Procedures of Accreditation, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) has prioritized the components of a well-rounded architectural education that are currently missing from studio, and that lack clarity in the NAAB’s values. The AIAS has chosen to prioritize and champion regulation that requires schools to provide, in order of importance:
    1. A healthy and enforceable Learning and Teaching Culture Policy;
    2. Actionable attempts at cultivating diversity and equity;
    3. Access to an interdisciplinary education (including allied fields, life experiences, and leadership and service opportunities); and
    4. Fundamental environmental literacy.
  • The Board held a monumental discussion regarding the existing FORUM endowment and decided to utilize the available funds to increase diversity at FORUM via registration scholarships for increased targeted member attendance.  Some categories that were explored for targeted member attendance include: High School Chapters, Community College Chapters, first-time attendees and emerging Chapters, geographically-inconvenienced Chapters, and Chapters at HBCU and HSI institutions.  More information regarding this scholarship opportunity will be released in the Fall.
  • The Board held a discussion with the organization’s legal counsel regarding the draft Code of Ethics crafted by the 2018-2019 Governance Committee.  After careful review of the alternate types of Codes of Ethics, the Board charged the 2019-2020 special Ethics Committee with further exploration and research into the pros and cons of both an aspirational and an enforceable Code of Ethics to bring forward to the Board for voting by the end of 2019.

BoD + CoP Approved Governance Modifications

  • In order to make any updates or modifications to our governing Bylaws, both leadership bodies must vote in favor of said changes. At Grassroots, a few Bylaws updates were passed. These include:
      • NCARB Liaisons are now officially allowed to vote
      • All gendered personal pronouns have now been replaced with “their”
      • The correct possible seasons for Quad Conferences, now that they occur in both the fall and spring

CoP Decisions + Motions from the Floor

  • The CoP charged the FBDAC with considering and crafting Bylaws for Freedom by Design
  • The CoP charged the Governance Committee with developing model Bylaws that chapters can adapt as they see necessary
  • The CoP charged the Membership Committee with researching the creation of an AIAS College of Fellows

CoP Discussions

  • There was significant discussion about Resolution 19GR01, which proposed that candidates for National Officer positions must have already served as a Chapter president or vice president, or on the National Board of Directors. Those in favor of the resolution made it clear that the intent was not to make candidacy exclusive, but to make sure that all candidates being considered had a minimum amount of relatable experience. Those against the resolution felt that the proposal implied a lack of trust in the Council of Presidents to discern who was capable of what. After two amendments that added all Chapter Executive Board experience to the list of prerequisite held positions, the resolution ultimately did not pass. 
  • Resolution 19GR02, which charged the AIAS with developing Freedom by Design Bylaws, was referred to committee very quickly. As a result, this year, the FBDAC will put together a chapter of Bylaws regarding the Freedom by Design Program.
  • Resolution 19GR03 charged the Governance committee with developing a set of Model Bylaws for Chapters to use. After an amendment that clarified that such Bylaws would be for optional use, the resolution passed with little discussion.
  • In order to create a class of high distinction reminiscent of the AIA’s College of Fellows, Resolution 19GR04 proposed charging the Governance Committee with investigating the process and conditions for this new type of AIAS award. Discussion mainly consisted of confirming what exactly the resolution sponsors meant, and asking AIA Liaison, Tim Hawk, about the process and benefits of FAIA distinction. It was the Board’s recommendation that this charge be made to the Membership Committee, but after little discussion, the resolution was passed as it was.
  • During the Town Hall, several conversations were brought up:
    1. Sponsors of Resolution 19GR01 asked for more feedback regarding why that resolution did not pass.
    2. Delegates asked about the Learning and Teaching Culture Policy, and President Curry informed everyone how that project would be a joint-effort between all the committees, for a rollout with collateral input in the Spring.
    3. In a surprising turn of events, a delegate moved to revisit the motion that was made in regards to 19GR04. The delegate moved to charge this resolution to the Membership Committee, per the Board’s recommendation. The motion was passed.
    4. Delegates discussed strategies for engaging with other allied organizations for students at their schools. The Board encouraged this kind of outreach.
    5. A delegate asked why there was not a national Freedom by Design Director, and the Board explained that between the FBDAC, the FBD manual, and the President and Vice President, the governance of FBD is suffice. Executive Director Israelsen explained the cost implications. 
    6. A guest brought up the fact that the United States is the only country in which architects are not in control of the construction of a project. Many delegates agreed that this was an issue that could benefit from collateral conversations.
    7. Delegates also agreed upon and proposed an idea that Roll Call could go more smoothly if there were a period of technical “sound check” prior to the General Session every morning. Delegates were reminded that they would have to submit their digital roll calls ahead of time, and the Board and Staff took a sound check under consideration.
    8. A delegate asked for advice about how to speak with professors about issues at their school and the AIAS. Other delegates recommended coming up with a strong plan of attack and demonstrating their Chapter’s initiative to improve their environment and education. The Board recommended bringing up concerns in quad pod calls/hub hangouts for more direction.

The first official 2019-2020 Board of Directors Meeting will be taking place in Washington, DC in October, and the Council of Presidents will reconvene in Toronto, ON in December in conjunction with FORUM Toronto!  Stay tuned for more updates on how your leaders are doing everything in their capacity to amplify your voices and provide you with the tools and avenues you need for success.