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.
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.
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|