Chair's Message

Chair's Message

A Message from the Chair

Kevin KeenanIt is a great honor for me to write this letter for the Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability’s Fall 2020 newsletter.  I have had the privilege of serving as the Department Chairperson since Fall of 2018.  Though this past academic year has been incredibly challenging for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the Covid-19 crisis, my intention here is to focus on some of the positives that I have witnessed over the past year.

First and foremost, the Department transitioned all of its courses to fully remote and online delivery formats in the middle of the Spring semester due to the sudden emergence of the Covid-19 crisis, and it continued in this mode throughout the fall semester.  The full time and adjunct faculty rose to the occasion, with herculean efforts to continue the delivery of high-quality instruction while minimizing disruptions to students and preserving safety.  I am truly amazed and inspired by the work that was done in such a short period of time—and the way in which it was done.  Our faculty kept a positive attitude despite enormous burdens and stress, but this approach was important to help keep the students calm and instill a sense of “we will get through this.”  And so far we have. Our Department has persevered in its mission with a collective will that recognizes the pain and suffering experienced by so many, including some of our students and community members.  Our students have risen to the occasion, exhibiting unyielding strength and optimism in completing their studies under enormous duress.  Though the crisis is far from over, and the stressors portend additional challenges in the days ahead, I am confident that if the recent past is a predictor of the near future, the GPS Department will emerge stronger than ever.

Second, amid the crisis, the Department found the wherewithal and strength to launch 3 new academic programs at the graduate level.  The Department welcomed its first graduate students in the Spring semester via its Certificate of Graduate Studies (COGS) in Environmental Studies.   This new program advances the study of the environment at the graduate level in areas of law, commerce, assessment, and innovation and problem solving.  In the Fall semester, the department expanded its graduate offerings via the first classes offered in the new Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning.  The Department welcomed 7 new students to this program.  Finally, the Department also launched a Combined Accelerated Degree Program (CADP) between its undergraduate BS degree in Community and Environmental Planning and the MS in Urban and Regional Planning.  The advancement of graduate education presents an exciting evolution to the Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability!

Third, the Department began the process of planning for its move from Robinson Hall to its new home in Discovery Hall, which is where the new School of Earth and Environment will be located.  The Department is one of the core departments in the school (see Dean Lacovara’s Open Line in this newsletter).  The Department’s faculty will have new offices and 2 additional classrooms in Discovery Hall, while it will retain its teaching and lab spaces in Robinson, as well as important research infrastructure and programming space.   2021 will be an exciting year for the Department indeed.

Finally, I will close by again expressing the deep honor I feel to be serving as the Department Chairperson during its 50th year.  (The Department was founded by Dr. Marvin Creamer in 1970; please review our Department’s history here: ).  Dr. Creamer was a great visionary, and though we lost him this year his presence and legacy remain as strong as ever.  (Please see the tribute to Dr. Creamer here: )  Dr. Creamer’s courage, vision, and emphasis on exploration is deeply embedded in the culture of the Department, and I personally believe that this culture is what allowed the department to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis in the remarkable way that it did.  Having experienced the love of Geography, kindness and compassion in the department, and the emphasis on putting our students first, I now know first-hand the impact that Dr. Creamer had and continues to have at Rowan University.  With that spirit, there is nothing the Department cannot do!

I wish all of you a happy and safe holiday season and new year.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at any point should you have any questions about the department or need my assistance in any way.



Kevin Keenan, Ph.D., AICP
Associate Professor
Department Chairperson

50th anniversary logo for GPS