For almost a decade they waited. Last month, the wait ended.
USF’s School of Architecture and Community Design (SACD) was granted a six-year term of accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) on Aug. 16.
“(The accreditation) is something that everybody needs to be aware of,” said Robert Hudson, an SACD adjunct professor. “It’s a very big thing.”
Established in 1986, the school, along with the Florida Center for Community Design and Research, has been a relatively unknown resource at USF. As the years passed, the growing number of students and research propelled the school to college status in 2003. But the accreditation only brought more students – not more facilities.
“In order to not lose their accreditation, they have to continually improve the program,” Hudson said. “And part of the improvement of the program is going to be facilities. So therefore, if you don’t have the facilities there’s the possibility in the future that somebody’s going (to) come back and say, ‘Hey, you don’t have the facilities.’
“The school loses out, the architectural program loses out. There is a relationship between the two.”
Among other requirements, students seeking an architectural license in the state of Florida must have earned a degree from a school accredited by the NAAB, the only agency authorized to accredit U.S. architectural programs.
The length of the accreditation period may be granted for six-year, three-year or two-year terms depending on the school’s accordance with educational standards established by the NAAB.
“It solidifies the fact that we are a respectable body in the University and we (will) continue to be that way for six more years,” said Richard Peterika, an architecture graduate student. “Hopefully we won’t have to struggle with the facilities we are in now and focus on other things.”
Provost Renu Khator recently appointed Professor Charles Hight as the new dean of the school. Hight, who is a registered architect and professional civil engineer, was formerly the dean at the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Hight officially began his term on Sept. 12.
The school’s faculty and students have won numerous awards over the past few years. The Florida Board of Architecture named SACD the Top School in Florida in 2002.
“Despite the fact (that) the facilities aren’t the best facilities, (the students) continue to do great work,” Hudson said. “And as long as they are doing really outstanding work, they will put themselves on the map. And you know, people are going to say, ‘Hey, this is the School of Architecture and this is the work they do.’ Somebody’s going to come along and say, ‘They need a building, and they need a proper building.'”
Some see the accreditation as an opportunity to push the architecture school higher on the University’s priority list, but some remain skeptical.
“I don’t think (the) accreditation gives us any limelight. It just allows us to continue to try to get attention,” said Peterika.