The following post is from a guest writer and AIA member, Steve Greco. Steve has spent the past year on the Program Evaluation Committee and provides some insight on why the committee exists and how it serves to inform the future of AIA programs in Colorado.
This past winter, I was able to have the unique experience of participating on the AIA Programs Evaluation Committee. What’s that you say? I was saying the same thing to myself after I had signed-up.
The Programs Evaluation Committee is a 6 person task-force established to evaluate existing AIA Colorado programs. Fun Fact – Did you know in 2013 there were over 200 programs sponsored by AIA Colorado? This fun fact was also the root cause in the formation of our committee, as it was decided that 200 programs is a bit too many to effectively promote and facilitate.
Our charge was simple. Decide which programs were working, which ones needed improvement and which ones maybe we could live without. In all honesty this was no simple task. In fact in was a little bit of a brutal approach.
Early on, OAK, no not the tree, became the key criteria we would use to evaluate the programs. Outreach, Advocacy and Knowledge. These are the focus areas AIA wants to promote for the profession. Once we understood the AIA’s mission, creating a scoring matrix was our next challenge.
With OAK as our guiding principal, next we tried to create the least subjective scoring matrix possible. Again, no easy task. Although this might be truly impossible, in my opinion we successfully created a scoring system that would allow us to defend some of the tough decisions we later had to make.
After the scoring matrix was created, the fun part was next: grading all 200 programs! This took us several sessions to complete. Finally, after 4-months of intense meetings, we summarized our findings into formal recommendations.
After our recommendation had been made, it was time to turn over the decision making to the local chapter boards. I can only speak for the Denver Chapter, but so far it sounds like the recommendations have been well received. Two of our most controversial recommendations were to consolidate the individual chapter Design Award Gala’s into one big state-wide event and to suspend Architecture Week events this past April. While these may not be popular among all members, our group felt like they were the right decisions in the long run. Our philosophy was simple, be willing to test new ideas. If they work, great, if not we can always revert back or try something else different.
Personally, I tremendously enjoyed my experience serving on the Programs Elevation Committee. Getting a behind the scenes look at how the AIA Colorado functions when looking at the entire calendar year is truly impressive. I would like to thank my fellow committee members for creating an enjoyable experience on a committee tasked with a difficult assignment.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that having an open-mind is key. In a progressive profession like architecture, we are trained to think critically. I believe this a habit not only important in our day-to -day activities, but maybe even more so when evaluating programs we put forward in the community to promote our profession.