Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture closer to independent incorporation

The school is halfway to its first fundraising milestone, but is facing a major deadline at end of this month.

August 04, 2015 |
Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture seeks independent incorporation

Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Ariz. Photo: I, Gobeirne/Creative Commons

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin announced today that it had reached almost 50% of the $1 million fundraising goal it needs to reach by the end of August on its way to independent status. The remaining $500,000 of these funds must be promised to the school by August 25 for the school’s Campaign for Independence to move forward.

In December of 2014, after an agreement between the Board of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the School agreed to raise $2 million, with $1 million of it by the end of this month, in order to achieve the financial autonomy necessary to become an independent organization.

Accreditation for the school has been threatened because the Higher Learning Commission changed its by-laws and would no longer accredit schools that are operating divisions of larger institutions with multi-faceted missions.

The School’s professional M.Arch degree program offers graduate students design-intensive studio experiences at campuses in Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Taliesin (Spring Green, Wis.). Over the last year, the school has revamped its curriculum to provide a better experimental graduate program in architecture. It focuses on learning how to make the human-made environment more sustainable and open. Students work with local communities to both design and build projects, and they make shelters that each student lives in for his or her final semester.

Accreditation for the school has been threatened because the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) changed its by-laws and would no longer accredit schools that are operating divisions of larger institutions with multi-faceted missions. Facing the possibility of the Frank Lloyd Wright School losing accreditation and potentially closing, longtime supporters suggested the possibility of raising funds to create and support an independently-incorporated school.

The Foundation Board agreed that, if the school's community could raise funds sufficient to demonstrate that the new organization would have “its own financial resources” (as explicitly required by the HLC’s by-laws), then spinning off the school would not present the same obstacles. The new, independent school organization would take ultimate fiduciary responsibility for itself.

As part of the new structure, the Foundation would donate over $1 million in facilities-related cash expenses every year, related to the school's use of Taliesin West and Taliesin as its campuses (at no cost to the school). The Foundation would also contribute an additional subsidy of $580,000 to the school in 2015, with decreasing levels of such additional transitional support over the next five years (but always continuing to cover 100% of annual facility-related expenses which total more than $1 million annually).

In order to achieve the desired independence and continue as a stand-alone School of Architecture, gifts and pledges for an initial $1 million in contributions must be received by August 25, 2015 – and gifts and pledges for a second million must be received by December 31, 2015.

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