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Frank Lloyd Wright school's future divides leaders

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 31, 2014 at 4:26 pm •  Published: August 31, 2014
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PHOENIX (AP) — The future of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has divided the institution named for the iconic designer. The quest to keep its accreditation status has some school board members concerned the degree program will end, while its foundation denied the school is in danger of closing.

The Scottsdale-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which operates the school, announced last week that it would not independently incorporate the school as a way to stay accredited. The Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, which accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in 19 states, changed its bylaws two years ago to prohibit accreditation for schools that operate as divisions of a larger organization.

Without accreditation, the school would be unable to offer a Master of Architecture degree, which offers students the chance to learn from those who once worked with the legendary architect.

The foundation's decision has shaken the school's Board of Governors, who say the program may have to shut down when its accreditation expires in 2017.

"The school could continue but it would not train architects that could become licensed. I'm not sure what value it would bring to them or to the profession," said Maura Grogan, board chairwoman.

Foundation President and CEO Sean Malone disagreed, saying the possibility of the school closing in the future was not "grounded in fact or reality."

He said he understood the board's desire to try separating the school from the foundation to meet the new accreditation criteria, but it wouldn't have been feasible.

"It was determined that it just wasn't appropriate to do that and simultaneously be committing long-term funding at well over $1 million a year," Malone said of the foundation's financial support.

Wright, who died in 1959, designed 1,141 architectural works. More than one-third of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are in a National Historic District. His Taliesin estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and one in Scottsdale, dubbed Taliesin West, became laboratories of sorts for student apprentices.

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