MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

The mission of the department is to train students and produce research on ways to improve the quality of life in cities in an integrated global economy. Our programs emphasize synthesizing an understanding of institutional analysis and technical knowledge of the cities not only in the United States, but in developing countries as well. As part of MIT, we have a special focus on the role of technology in solving the problems of urban areas. We place a strong emphasis on theorizing from practice; and many of our faculty are practitioners as well as scholars. We focused during the past year on enhancing our research and teaching on effective practice, building our already outstanding faculty and attracting a diverse group of top-notch students to our programs.

This year also marked some important changes in the leadership of the department. Department Head, Professor Phillip Clay was appointed Associate Provost; he was succeeded by Associate Professor Bish Sanyal who took over the Department's leadership on November 1, 1994. Yet another faculty member, Professor Lawrence Bacow, was recruited by the MIT administration to became the Chair-elect of the MIT faculty.


As a result of our long-range plan, completed in 1992, we reorganized the Department into five program areas: Design and Real Estate Development; Environmental Policy and Planning; Housing, Community and Economic Development; International Development and Regional Planning; and Planning Support Systems (information technology). Over the past year, faculty and students from each of the five areas engaged in a number of exciting new initiatives in research, teaching and learning:


In addition to teaching and research activities, each program group sponsored weekly seminar series. Students and faculty engaged in lively debate with many renowned speakers from all facets of the planning field, including visiting historian Sam Bass Warner who spoke on the impact of the Charles River on the Greater Boston region and Franz Evers, Director General of the Government Building Agency in the Netherlands who gave a mini-course on Managing the Public's Real Estate.

Despite the relatively low starting salaries in the planning field and the high cost of tuition, the number of applicants for our programs has remained very high and enrollment in both the Master's and Ph.D. programs has been constant over the last several years. This year, the student body was more than 51 percent women, 13 percent people of color and 39 percent international students. The department awarded 47 Master's in City Planning, six S.M. and four Ph.D. degrees.

The annual commencement breakfast included presentation of awards to three Master's students. Anne Beamish received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award. Karen Khor won the Flora Crockett Stephenson writing prize. Scott Schiamberg received the fifth annual Wallace Floyd Award for Urban Design.

A number of other Master's students won awards this year. First-year students Lynn Pikholz and John Powers, Jr. won the Carroll L. Wilson Graduate Awards for their research proposals and Coral Damkroger won the American Planning Association's Charles Abrams Award.

Ph.D. candidates also won a number of prestigious awards. David Laws received the Goodwin Medal for the best graduate instructor at MIT in 1994-95. Adil Najam won a summer Rockefeller fellowship through the Program on Non-Profit Organizations at Yale. Adil Najam and David Laws also were awarded Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School for 1995-96. One of these Fellowships was held by Ph.D. student Rosemary Sandford in 1994-95. Bijan Azad and John Evans received fellowships from the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Paola Perez-Aleman won an Inter-American Bank Dissertation Fellowship and Anuradha Joshi received an American Institute of Indian Studies Dissertation Fellowship. Ruijue Peng (Ph.D. '94) won the 1994 dissertation award from the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association. Xiannuan Lin (Ph.D. '94) was one of two winners of the 15th Regional Science Association International Dissertation Competition. Several graduating Ph.D. students landed prestigious teaching jobs, including Peggy Levitt at Harvard, Karen Umemoto at the University of Hawaii and Yu Hung Hong at the University of Hong Kong.


Although the undergraduate program is not a major focus of the department, we did expand it to reflect the growing interest in the field of urban planning. More faculty served as freshman advisors and more undergraduate courses were offered. Course enrollment was well over 300, and 20 undergraduate students opted for a major in urban planning.


Professor Alice Amsden joined the International Development and Regional Planning group and holds the Ellen Swallow Richards Chair. She is a highly regarded economist studying the emerging economies of Eastern Europe and East Asia. The Design and Development group also has a new face to replace Philip Herr, who retired after more than thirty years of distinguished teaching. Terry Szold draws on her many years of experience as a practitioner to teach land use planning and law.

A couple of positions also opened up in the Housing, Community and Economic Development group, and were filled by new junior faculty members. Assistant Professor Aixa Cintron provides a critical perspective in labor market studies, particularly the participation of low-income women of color. Karl Seidman teaches and practices in the area of local economic development, and divides his time between MIT and his duties as Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Government Land Bank. Assistant Professor Timothy Riddiough's work focuses on real estate capital markets and mortgage lending issues.

In February, the department hosted a celebration of recent books published by faculty. Professors Emeriti Lloyd Rodwin and Donald Schon co-edited Rethinking the Development Experience: Essays Provoked by the Work of Albert O. Hirschman. The book included chapters written by Professor Emerita Lisa Peattie, Professor Sanyal, and Professor Judith Tendler. Professor Amsden published, with Jacek Kochanowicz and Lance Taylor, The Market Meets Its Match: Restructuring the Economies of Eastern Europe. Professors Schon and Martin Rein published Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies. Associate Professor Paul Smoke published Local Government Finance in Developing Countries: The Case of Kenya. Professor Lawrence Susskind published Environmental Diplomacy: Negotiating More Effective Global Agreements. Professor Judith Tendler published Good Government in the Tropics.

In other faculty honors, Associate Professor Lawrence Vale won a Guggenheim Fellowship to continue his research on public housing in Boston. Professor Peattie and seven co-authors received the Journal of the American Planning Association "Best Feature" Award for their article "Paul Davidoff and Advocacy Planning in Retrospect." Professor Susskind was named as a joint appointee to the Hyde Chair for Excellence in Community and Regional Planning at the College of Architecture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Professor Frank Levy, an authority on US income distribution, discussed the economic circumstances of the middle class on ABC's Nightline, the McNeil-Lehrer Report, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. His quotes and graphs appeared in TIME Magazine's Report on the Nation. Professor Riddiough was one of three scholars in real estate and land economics recognized by the Weimer School of Advanced Studies in Real Estate and Land Economics; he also won the Homer Hoyt Post-Doctoral Fellow Award. Dennis Frenchman received the American Institute of Architects Award for Excellence in Planning for the plan for the future of Boston harbor beaches. Ms. Szold won the Outstanding Community Leadership Award from the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce.

Faculty also made significant contributions to Institute-wide activities and initiatives. Professor Amsden participated in the Mendoza, Argentina project. Professors Sanyal, Tendler and Polenske were active in the Center for International Studies' MacArthur Program on Transnational Security and Ford Foundation program. Professor Ralph Gakenheimer and Paul Levy collaborated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on environmental and transportation issues. Professor Susskind and the Environmental Policy group contributed to MIT-wide environmental initiatives.


The School of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning gathered on May 4th to honor the memory of the late John T. Howard, who died on February 2, 1995 at the age of 83. Professor Howard was a pioneer city planner in the US and head of the department from 1957 to 1973. Following the memorial gathering, Mitchell Kapor delivered the John T. Howard Memorial lecture--"Is There Room for Democracy in Cyberspace?" Kapor is Adjunct Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, founder of Lotus Development Corporation and a leading thinker on ways of promoting access to computer technology for underserved communities. The theme of Professor Kapor's remarks reflect new directions for the department through the work of the Community Fellows Program and the Computer Resource Laboratory.

The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted 15 fellows from around the world, including participation for the first time by fellows from Armenia and Tajikistan. For the second year in a row, the majority of these mid-career professionals from developing countries were women. Fellows worked on projects ranging from environmental policy and planning in Korea to the transition to a market economy in Slovenia. Fellows were funded by the Muskie Fellowship Program, the Soros Foundation, the United Nations Training and Fellowship Program, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and governments of their home countries.

The domestic counterpart, the Community Fellows program, brought 13 mid-career community activists from communities of color in the US to build skills to develop youth-oriented programs for their home communities. In addition to launching a new project on advanced technologies in low-income communities, fellows also researched and crafted strategies for mentoring young males, providing shelter for inner-city girls, developing alternatives to violence, and evaluating youth programs. Fellows were supported by the Ford, Kellogg and Reebok foundations.

Professor Bish Sanyal

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95