Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP) is the youngest planning department ever to achieve national "top ten" rankings. Prior to becoming a department (1993), we were a "concentration" (1989-1991) and then a "program" (1992-1993) within the university's innovative School of Social Ecology. Two major legacies from this earlier period continue to shape our work. The first is a problem-oriented, empirical, and multi-disciplinary approach to scholarship. The second is a spirit of informality, reflected in the accessibility of our faculty. A third legacy, of yet another sort, originated in this period: a generous gift by the Warmington family, which established the first of two endowed chairs held by UPPP professors.

UPPP's history mirrors the rapid rise of the Irvine campus, itself a story of grand-scale planning success. The creative movers in Irvine history (both the campus and the city, which were planned simultaneously) comprised noted architect William Pereira, soils expert, founding campus chancellor Dan Aldrich, and planner Ray Watson, vice-president of the Irvine Company, which owned the enormous ranch from which two square miles have been carved for the campus. Of these three men, most central to contemporary planning is Ray Watson, whose ideas about "place making" continue to motivate development in the City of Irvine. After four decades of master-planned growth, the city's population recently surpassed 200,000 on its way to a projected one-quarter million residents.


The Timeline

1993: Program of Urban and Regional Planning Established

The department was established in 1993 under the name Urban and Regional Planning. Our first success was to institute a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program, whose founding class, numbering just over a handful, graduated in 1994. At that point, the department's faculty roster stood at ten.


By 1996, the MURP program had produced two dozen alumni, and the department had recruited an inaugural cohort of doctoral students for its new Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning. Helen Ingram, a distinguished natural resources scholar, joined the faculty as the first incumbent in the Warmington Endowed Chair. Roger Johnson, former Fortune 500 CEO and former head of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), joined the faculty as a visiting instructor to build expertise in the areas of public sector governance and collaborative management. In 1997, the MURP program received its first term of accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board. At that point the department's faculty roster had increased to 13.


In 1998, UPPP and the School of Social Ecology stepped into the limelight when then-Vice President Al Gore delivered a presentation on "Restoring Confidence in Government Through Professional Management." The town hall style event marked the establishment of the Roger and Janice Johnson Chair, the second of two endowed chairs since held by UPPP professors. Martha Feldman, a renowned political scientist, became the first Johnson Chair in 2002.


In 2003, we adopted the department name, Planning, Policy, and Design (PPD), and renamed our doctoral degree, following curricular revisions, to Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design. The new names better reflect our strengths, which extend beyond those of traditional urban and regional planning programs. More importantly, they reflect our determination to seek better solutions to the world's complex urban and regional issues, which lie at the intersection of planning, public policy, and design of the built environment. In this year, we also constituted our external professional Advisory Board, a group of accomplished practitioners charged with strengthening the program's ties to the professional community. By the end of 2003, new hires had brought total UPPP faculty to 17.

From the outset, the department has conducted path-breaking research. Our faculty members contribute and serve routinely as authors or editors of the leading journals in planning, policy, design, and their allied disciplines. Our books and monographs have been published by the Johns Hopkins and Oxford University Presses, Routledge, MIT Press, University of California Press, and other highly-regarded outlets. Our commitment to bridging theory and practice is reflected in membership on committees of the National Research Council and in other local, national, and international advisory bodies throughout government and the private and nonprofit sectors. The year 2004 provided one of the first in a series of external validations of our efforts when a study published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research ranked UPPP fifth among U.S. programs in terms of faculty publications. In that year, the faculty stood at 19 strong.


In 2006, the MURP program reached a plateau in its history with an entering class numbering 45 (more than quadruple the entering class of 1992). Whereas MURP classes have stabilized since then, doctoral and faculty expansion have continued modestly, though steadily. As a new decade approaches, we look forward to the maturation and strategic extension of our existing research, outreach, and training activities. The well-earned accomplishments of our alumni continue to do us proud.

2007 - 2012
In 2009, UPPP’s first exclusively undergraduate major, a B.A. in Urban Studies, is officially launched with some 25 majors. In 2012, the program has over 130 majors. In 2011, UPPP launches its long-awaited Master's in Public Policy (MPP) program with an inaugural class of 21 students. UPPP also serves as administrative home of this program within Social Ecology, which is co-managed with the School of Social Sciences. Other major curriculum changes include adoption of four capstone options for the department’s signature Master's in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program. Students can now choose to complete a professional report, master’s thesis, supervised specialty exam, or a community practicum. We have also adopted a two-year curriculum plan to facilitate serving our many programs. Finally, five faculty hires have taken place since 2007: Doug Houston in Urban Planning (2007), Tim-Allen Bruckner in Public Health and Planning (2007), Maria Rendon in Public Policy (2011), Seth Pipkin in Public Policy (2012) and Jae Hong Kim in Urban Planning (2012).

In 2017, the Department of Planning, Policy and Design has been renamed to the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy to better reflect the research fields and degree programs the department offers and create a more inclusive intellectual home for current and future faculy, students and alumni. The name change was finalized after a lengthy vetting process within the School of Social Ecology and across the UC Irvine campus. Five faculy hires have taken place since 2014 : Nicholas J. Marantz in Ubran Planning (2014), Walter Nicholls in Urban Planning (2015), Nicola Ulibarri in Urban Planning (2016), Maura Allaire (2017), and Virginia Parks (2017).

UPPP Department Chairs

1991-1992 Mark Baldassare, Program Coordinator
1993-1997 Mark Baldassare, Chair
1998-2002 Scott Bollens, Chair
2003-2006 Marlon Boarnet, Chair
2007 Ken Chew, Chair
2007-2016 David Feldman, Chair
Scott Bollens, Interim Chair
2017-Present Virginia Parks, Chair