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Feb. 12, 2006
FIDER NEWSRemarkable Volunteers As increasing numbers of schools seek FIDER accreditation, more educators and practitioners need to become involved.By Keith Hooks, IIDA, AIAFIDER site visits to interior design programs are comprehensive and demanding. FIDER conducts 30 to 40 site visits annually and each visit requires scrupulous evaluation of compliance with FIDER Standards through hours of reviewing student work, interviewing and observing the learning environment. Investigating the quality of each interior design program is a group of highly dedicated volunteers who are interior design practitioners and educators.Remarkable? Perhaps not at first glance, but consider this: In the past five years alone, FIDER site visitors have contributed approximately 65,844 hours to conducting site visits. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 years of 40-hour work weeks. Okay, so now you're impressed. But, you're probably also thinking that there must be some quantifiable reward. Well, not really. Site visitors quietly conduct this work with no honoraria and little public recognition. Despite this, site visitors report satisfaction, even enthusiasm, for their volunteer experience, most often citing a sense of contributing to the interior design community as the most significant reward. As one site visitor recently commented, "Regardless of how exhausted I am upon returning from a FIDER site visit, I always have the wonderful feeling of satisfaction . . . value and worth that I have been able to contribute to the betterment of interior design education . . . that feeling alone makes participation in the FIDER accreditation process worthwhile."By now, you've come to the conclusion—these are not ordinary volunteers.The dedication of FIDER site visitors recalls the vision of FIDER's founders: to advance the profession through quality interior design education. That vision is strong in FIDER today, with the number of accredited programs more than doubling in the past 20 years and growing annually. Sustained future growth will require more educators and practitioners to become involved as site visitors.Yet, not everyone is qualified to serve in the role of site visitor. In order to become a FIDER site visitor, individuals must apply, submit references, credentials and undergo an evaluation for "fit" similar to employment practices. Why such rigor for a volunteer position? Confidence in FIDER accreditation depends in large part on the performance of its site visitors. These individuals are the ambassadors of FIDER who build relationships with the programs being reviewed and promote FIDER's purpose and value. Site visitors must be committed to FIDER's mission and demonstrate the attributes of team players, critical thinkers and good time managers. The FIDER Board of Directors appoints only those candidates who meet these expectations. For this reason, appointment as a FIDER site visitor is an honor, signifying a high degree of both expertise and professional conduct.Do you share a vision for advancing the profession through quality education? Consider applying to become a FIDER site visitor. Fore more information, please contact: [email protected].

Keith Hooks, IIDA, AIA is chair of the FIDER Accreditation Commission and owner of Hooks Design + Architecture in San Francisco, CA, where he specializes in commercial interiors and adaptive reuse of buildings.

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