Tuskegee University Regains NAAB Accreditation

April 28, 2009

By David Sokol

In mid-March the architecture program of Tuskegee University—the historically black university founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881—earned accreditation for the period January 2008 through 2011. The decision comes after the National Architectural Accrediting Board revoked Tuskegee’s accreditation in 2006, the first such occurrence in NAAB’s 69-year history.

NAAB executive director Andrea S. Rutledge says that, in general, revocation is contingent upon “a perfect storm of problems in some combination of physical resources, financial resources, human resources, and information resources, from which you often see corresponding problems in students’ ability to achieve the prescribed level in the student performance criterion.” At Tuskegee, architecture students' dispersal among multiple facilities on campus, as well as deficiencies in digital-design software and curriculum, figured highly into the revocation, according to the NAAB Visiting Team Report.

In 2007, the university hired Richard Dozier, AIA, as the architecture department’s associate dean to hurdle such impediments. Shortly after he started, he oversaw consolidation of the architecture program to one location: the William G. Wilcox Trade Buildings, a five-structure complex that also houses the university’s construction science program.

NAAB cited Dozier’s arrival, as well as the effort to reconvene students and faculty in a single home, in its decision to accredit the architecture program once again. The board also praised Tuskegee’s recently allotting more funds to the architecture program and its personnel.

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Dozier notes there is still more progress to be made, such as implementing a design-build program that focuses on community outreach and strengthening its digital-design offerings. He points out, too, that all seven historically black colleges and universities offering NAAB-accredited architecture degrees have grappled with a lack of means.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards requires architects to have attended a NAAB-accredited school to earn their NCARB certificates. Rutledge explains that NCARB’s education requirement may be fulfilled by “graduating from a NAAB-accredited program within two years prior to its being accredited.” Therefore, students who graduated from Tuskegee’s five-year B.Arch program between the 2006 revocation and January 2008 re-accreditation will be deemed NCARB-equivalent. Even so, in light of the latest ruling, there is a new burgeoning of interest in Tuskegee’s architecture program. Dozier reports that applications for the architecture program have shot up roughly 50 percent from last year. 


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