Bang Zoom! To the Moon Associates!

Should Associates Members of the AIA be able to serve as Regional Directors on the Institute’s Board of Directors? The passions about Bylaws Amendment 10-D animated The Fillmore Miami Beach Jackie Gleason Theater in a way that will long be recalled by those attending and those impacted by the vote.

The cover of the Delegate Information Booklet 2010 of the AIA 2010 National Convention is bright yellow, and the bold black lettering of its title seemed large and clear. Convention Resolutions were easily passed by majority vote, allowing for proxy voting, convention location planning, and recognition of those who had become licensed in 2009. But there were four bylaws amendments under consideration — one controversial. Three of the amendments received the necessary two-thirds majority of those accredited to vote. Proposed Bylaw Amendment 10-D did not. Easily passing muster were bylaws changes allowing for abbreviation in nomenclature; electronic voting at meetings; and, importantly, a continuation of the Member Dues Payment Plan, which allows those experiencing hardship to pay yearly dues in partial installments.

The most controversial debate at the Annual Meeting (as it was last year) was Amendment 10-D, allowing Associate Members to serve as Regional Directors on state boards. Associate Members — the fastest growing category of AIA membership — does not only consist of intern architects pursuing architecture; it includes urban designers, educators, engineers, and writers, some who have worked in the profession for more than 20 years who never intend to pursue licensure. This resolution would have given each component the opportunity to nominate the most qualified member to serve as Regional Director.

Those in opposition stated that only architects should be serving in national leadership roles, as it is the American Institute of “Architects.” For local leadership positions, however, the opposition was split. Delegates in favor of the Amendment 10-D stated that it is important to support the future of the profession — Associates — and, since the National Board is a representational board, it should be up to the region to decide who is most qualified. Some referenced Resolution 09-1, the adoption of the “Gateway Commitment,” which passed earlier at this meeting, specifically stating the importance of “learning from other colleagues and related organizations that have successfully addressed diversity issues.” Proponents argued that by passing Amendment 10-D, the AIA would be showing it truly supports diversity within the profession.


(continued) Bang Zoom! To the Moon Associates!

Few delegates were silent when the floor was opened to debate, whether in support of or against this amendment. Representing the New York Region, and the vast majority of those in the room, AIA New York State President Francis Pitts, AIA, spoke of the value of diversity of experience and new voices for the Board. Opponents included representatives from AIA Arkansas, AIA Las Vegas, AIA New Mexico, AIA South Carolina, and, surprisingly, AIA Chicago. Their position raised fears that Associates didn’t have the necessary professional experience to participate in Board dialogue, or might, in some manner, be discouraged from seeking licensure. The opinions expressed by these delegates recalled those previously heard at last year’s Convention in San Francisco, when the amendment was first introduced.

The vote for 10-D was 2,727 in favor, 1,022 opposed, and 21 abstaining. The proposition did not receive a two-thirds majority that would have been possible if all accredited chapters and states were present. It was declared that 2,727 votes were less than 60% of those accredited. But it was also noted, in the Gleason Theater’s back rows, that 2,727 votes was more than 72% of the 3,770 votes actually cast. For the amendment to pass with 3,078 votes of the 3,770 votes accredited, a super-majority of 81% would have been needed.

In The Honeymooners, when the Jackie Gleason character, Ralph Kramden got mad he would say, “One of these days Alice, Bang Zoom! To the Moon Alice! To the Moon!” Maybe one of these days Associates will be accorded proper respect by accredited Convention delegates. Next year in New Orleans!