Chair's Message

Chair's Message

Chair’s Letter, Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability

Kevin Keenan

Spring 2022 Newsletter

It is hard to believe that another spring semester has ended.  I am grateful to have this opportunity to provide updates from the Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability.  Our Department has had quite a productive year.  We have emerged from the pandemic stronger and with a greater commitment to our collective well-being.  We have been there for another group of students that just days ago were graduated.  And we have continued our commitment to the School of Earth and Environment and all it stands for.

  • Completion of Phase II for Accreditation of the Community and Environment Planning Program: Under the guidance of Dr. Susan Bradbury from Iowa State University, the Department completed a thorough review of its readiness for accreditation. This included revisions to the program’s Strategic Plan, assessment procedures, and program autonomy.  As these changes are implemented, the program will be in an even stronger position to achieve national accreditation!
  • Curricular Innovation: The Department initiated several curricular innovations and improvements, including a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Geospatial Science and Methods (coordinated by Dr. Christman), a new course titled “The Geography of Beer” (taught by Dr. York), major revisions to the BS in Community and Environmental Planning to prepare for accreditation, and a new 4+1 program between the BA in Geography and our MS in Urban and Regional Planning.
  • Student Awards and Graduates: 58 students received degrees this past spring including our very first graduate student. We also honored our outstanding students at a special awards ceremony held on 26 April 2022.  
  • New Lecturer for the Environmental & Sustainability Studies Program: We welcomed a new Environmental & Sustainability Studies lecturer to the Department, Dr. Lydia Horne. Horne earned her ph.d. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from University of Maine.  She will join us this fall. 

The following are some priorities that I hope the Department will work on in the fall. 

  • Complete a successful search for an Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning: The final piece for our accreditation efforts is hiring an assistant professor of environmental planning. The Department will complete this search in Fall 2022.
  • Develop new programs and revitalize existing ones: The Department will strive to create additional 4+1 programs that create cost- and time-effective pathways to graduate programs. The Department will also act on the results of our program revitalization review, which was conducted this spring, to improve all of our programs. 
  • Continue to Integrate the Department with the School of Earth and Environment: The Department will continue to work with its sister departments of Environmental Science and Geology to support the broader mission of the School of Earth and Environment, and will strive for new joint curricula.

As is always the case, our Department can achieve so much due to its committed and dedicated faculty and staff, the support it receives from so many wonderful constituencies, including the School of Earth and Environment, our alumni and friends, and our various stakeholders from around the University and in the broader community, as well as from the inspirational presence of our students.

Again, I am thankful for another successful semester, and I look forward to a productive and engaging fall.  Do not hesitate to contact me at any point should you need the assistance of the Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability. 



Dr. Kevin Keenan, AICP
Associate Professor & Department Chairperson 

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