CARTA’s faculty members are not only innovators in the classroom, but trailblazers of the subject matter they teach, having a direct impact on professional standards. Marilys R. Nepomechie, CARTA’s associate dean of faculty and program development and architecture professor, has been named president of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
The board accredits professional degrees in architecture offered by institutions accredited by a U.S. regional accrediting agency. All 55 U.S. registration boards accept the NAAB-accredited degree for registration; 38 of those boards require it.
The NAAB, in collaboration with the national chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ASCA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and members of the public, recently completed new guiding documents for domestic accreditation and international certification practices. During her presidency, Nepomechie hopes to lead their implementation in both virtual and face-to-face modalities, providing mentorship and support for accredited and certified programs at home and abroad.
Over the coming year, the NAAB hopes to leverage investments in technology to expand its database in support of a holistic understanding of the key drivers of change in architectural education. To advance diversity, equity and inclusion in accredited architectural education, the NAAB plans to work with its collateral partners to explore new avenues. This can grow the pipeline to an accredited professional degree by engaging community college and pre-professional programs through certification and expand access to information resources for students interested in pursuing an education in architecture.
Finally, the NAAB plans to participate in two national, cross-organizational research projects. One, led by the ACSA, focuses on the length, content and nomenclature of the professional degree in architecture. The other, led by the AIA, and based on the 1996 “Building Community: A New Future for Architecture Education and Practice,” is the creation of a 21st-century assessment of the key roles for professional education in architecture.
Nepomechie has been involved in architecture program assessment and accreditation for many years; beginning with her role as the inaugural director of the graduate/professional program in FIU Architecture. In that capacity, she collaborated with department faculty, university leadership and FIU students to secure national accreditation for the then-new professional program. In the intervening years, she has chaired multiple teams of educators, professionals, regulators and students, carrying out accreditation visits on behalf of the NAAB in the U.S. and abroad.
In a related effort, Nepomechie currently serves as co-director of the Education Commission of the International Union of Architects (UIA) and as co-reporter/director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-UIA Validation Council. In those roles, she shares leadership in international professional program assessment and mentorship on behalf of the UIA.
Her work in national academic leadership also includes election to the presidency of the ACSA in 2014-’15. She served on the ACSA executive committee from 2014-2017 and during her presidency expanded the organization’s support for faculty research, grew opportunities for peer-reviewed publications, shaped international engagement and advanced collaboration between the academy and the profession of architecture.
“I feel grateful and deeply honored to be one of the few educators who has had the privilege of being elected to preside over ACSA and NAAB, the two principal organizations of architectural education in the United States,” said Nepomechie.
She credits FIU as central to this achievement. As a young, Carnegie Research 1, community-engaged, large public urban university, FIU embodies the higher education context that the ACSA and NAAB directly support. “On a personal level, the university has afforded me exceptional opportunities to gain the experience that has prepared me for these roles. FIU has generously supported my national service efforts since my arrival on campus some two decades ago,” Nepomechie explained.
When asked what the NAAB presidency means to her, Nepomechie describes it as a “humbling privilege as well as a point of tremendous pride.” She further explains that it represents a unique opportunity to create a lasting impact on the structure and content of professional education in architecture.