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Student perspective: AIA Large Firm Round Table and Dean’s Forum

January 11, 2018

Tulane School of Architecture hosted the American Institute of Architects Large Firm Round Table (LFRT) and Dean’s Forum in October. Dean Kenneth Schwartz and fifth-year student Sarah Narrow compiled a wrap up of the event.


I had the honor of hosting the AIA LFRT in late October for the biennial Dean’s Forum. Deans from a number of the top schools in the United States were selected to participate alongside CEOs from major firms, who collectively employ roughly 85 percent of architects in the country.

Each dean selected a student to participate in this collaborative workshop format. One of our talented student leaders, Sarah Narrow, represented the School of Architecture brilliantly in this role. Her reflections are included below.

This event was a stimulating discussion around important issues for the future of the profession and society. It was also a chance to highlight the unique way Tulane combines excellence in design education with community engagement and innovation through a presentation of student and faculty work.


The LFRT was guided by a series of questions on diversity, inclusion and retention in academia and professional practice. I shared a table with a balance of students, deans and CEOs, bringing a range of perspectives to the brainstorming sessions.

Richardson Memorial Hall was buzzing with innovative ideas and action items for discussion and eventual implementation. By the end of the day, the group successfully completed one of the top three action items, to host the next Deans Forum at an HBCU (historically black college/university). The chair of Hampton University, Robert L. Easter, gladly took on the challenge, confirming the location for the next Forum in fall 2019.

Another major agenda item established a Large Firm Roundtable Fund for initiatives to reach and support underserved populations and high schools. This is an effort to increase exposure of the profession and promote minority access to architectural education and the field.

The forum was an incredibly inspirational experience. I was surrounded by leaders of the architecture discipline who spoke on critical issues at hand. The many conversations during the event were genuine and stimulating. I am eager to continue my involvement as a soon-to-be graduate and young professional, and I hope to help in building on some of the incredible initiatives discussed at the Dean's Forum.