NAAB praises program for a “highly effective” learning culture and active-learning initiatives
The National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) has awarded the University of Maryland’s Master of Architecture degree program an eight-year, full term of accreditation. The team report, which was delivered this summer and stemmed from a visit with architecture faculty and students in April, highlighted the program’s academic, cultural and collaborative climate, with special commendation for the school’s depth and breadth of learning opportunities, both in and out of the classroom. The school’s program has been accredited consecutively since 1985.
The visiting team commended the program for a number of initiatives, including efforts to strengthen its digital capabilities, the development of connections with other university-wide programs and the array of dual degree options. Resources for students—including MAPP’s 24-hour library and career services—were also highlighted. The team was particularly impressed with the program’s involvement and commitment in this year’s Department of Energy Solar Decathlon—the university’s fifth entry in the history of competition—as well as its engagement with the university’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability Program, which pairs students with real-world sustainability challenges in Maryland communities. Central to the assessment, however, was what the team garnered from examining student work, often the hallmark of a program’s academic mettle. Four of the assessment protocols—the school’s learning culture, students’ ability to convey design thinking skills, students’ ability to apply evaluation and decision-making skills into the design process and the demonstration of integrative design and technical solutions—were met with distinction.
“This is a wonderful achievement and speaks to the program’s history of excellence,” said Sonia Hirt, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “It is also a nod to program director Brian Kelly, whose dedication to our faculty and students has made the program what it is today.”
While the team was impressed by the range and complexity of student projects, they were equally impressed by the students, noting their “clear passion for architecture and loyalty to the University of Maryland.”
This achievement, which is a prelude to the school’s 50th anniversary, offered administrators and faculty a moment of reflection, as well as projection; program director Brian Kelly is using the process, which took over a year of preparation, as an opportunity to chart the program’s strategic future.
“Architects have traditionally looked to the past in order to formulate their visions for the future, and this is certainly the case with architectural education,” said Kelly. “As faculty, we have used this opportunity to gain perspective on where we have been, who we currently are, and where we see ourselves going into the future. Though accreditation demands enormous effort on the part of the faculty, staff and student body, it provides a critical moment of self-assessment that is so essential to our renewal of purpose. All I can say is, how happy I am that it all came together with such tremendous success!”
Read the full NAAB report, here.