Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning

Faculty and Staff

Jerry Anthony
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University
Land Use Planning
Housing Policy
Growth Management

My major areas of research interest are: a) housing and community development issues - in particular federal, state and local housing policies and the development of affordable housing; b) growth management, where I am concerned about the benefits and costs of growth management polices and their distribution across different income populations; and c) land, infrastructure and housing market issues in developing countries especially those of South Asia and Latin America. In addition, I am interested in built-form and urban design issues. My teaching interests have much in common with my research interests.

Jerry's public engagement activities:

Les Beck
Les Beck
Adjunct Lecturer
M.A., Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University
Land Use Planning

Mr. Beck has over 30 years of experience as a planning department director and has been involved in a wide range of land use and information management issues. He has been a presenter at local, regional and national conferences on topics including agricultural land preservation and growth management, GIS development and implementation, and management of planning and zoning offices.

Mr. Beck currently is the Director of the Linn County, Iowa Planning & Development Department and previously served as the Director of the Story County, Iowa Planning & Zoning Department. Mr. Beck has served as President of the County Zoning Officials Organization and the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association, and has served on several state-level task forces, including co-chair of the Iowa Smart Planning Task Force.

Mr. Beck attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa where he received his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and Master of Community and Regional Planning degrees. He was awarded The Design Achievement Award by Iowa State University in 2002.

Janet Bell
Career Services Coordinator
B.A., Business, Muskingum University

My main focus in the School of Urban and Regional Planning is supporting our graduate students with career assistance. In the 2013 season, between December 1st, 2012 and August 1st, 2013, over 1400 jobs and internships were posted for our students. If you are an employer or alum who would like our students to know about an entry level job or internship, please email the information to me and I will be happy to post it.

I enjoy the different aspects of my job and the people I assist, whether it be students, faculty, or alumni. My professional experience includes working at the University of Iowa on both the academic and medical sides, which has given me extensive knowledge of the University and the Iowa City community. In 2007 I received the university's certificate for completion of the Building Our Global Community program, giving me advanced knowledge of the needs of international students and how to best support them. I enjoy interacting with our international students, learning about their cultures and serving as a community resource for them.

Nick Benson
Program Coordinator, Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities
J.D., University of Iowa
M.S., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Iowa

I am the Program Coordinator for the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC).  My main job is to oversee the expansion of the IISC to a campus-wide initiative, engaging various departments across the university in sustainability projects with communities across the state.  I enjoy the opportunity to holistically evaluate and promote sustainability in Iowa’s communities through the application of faculty and student research and expertise. 

I have a long educational history with the University of Iowa.  I graduated from the University in 2006 with a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies, and I received my law degree from Iowa in 2010.  After graduating from law school, I decided to further pursue my interest in urban planning, and thus went back to school to obtain my M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning at Iowa in 2012. 

Prior to beginning this position, I worked for the City of Iowa City Planning & Community Development department for a year and a half, first as an intern and then as the Community Development Project Coordinator.  I have served on several planning committees, including the Coralville Action Team for the Iowa River Landing Framework Plan and Master Plan. 

My areas of professional interest are sustainable development, economic development, civic engagement, land use law and transportation planning.

Pam Butler
Administrative Services Coordinator
A.A., Kirkwood Community College

Hi everyone. I've been in the School of Urban and Regional Planning since September 1999. I thoroughly enjoy it here. I love working with the students, faculty, staff and many other members throughout the University community. I especially like the variety of things I do. The academic setting in Urban and Regional Planning inspired me to start taking classes again.  I transferred the University of Iowa credits that I earned in 1967-1969 to Kirkwood Community College and was able to complete my Associate of Arts degree in May of 2007.  The last class that I took to complete my degree was a Study Abroad Spanish course in Seville, Spain.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.  It just goes to show that it is never too late to continue one’s education and that each new experience has the potential to change the course of one’s life. 

Chuck Connerly Aug 2014.jpg
Professor and Director
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan
Community Development
Urban Planning History
Civil Rights and Urban Planning


Chuck Connerly joined the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning in 2008 as professor and director. His research has been published in top journals, including the Journal of the American Planning Association, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, the Journal of Planning Literature, Housing Studies, the Journal of Urban History, and Urban Affairs Quarterly. He authored a book published by the University of Virginia Press, The Most Segregated City in America: City Planning and Civil Rights in Birmingham, 1920-1980 (2005) and most recently co-edited Growth Management in Florida: Planning for Paradise, published by Ashgate Publishing in 2007. The Most Segregated City was named one of the top 10 planning books in 2006 by Planetizen. In 2007 the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning named the book a recipient of the Paul Davidoff Award, which recognizes an outstanding book publication promoting participatory planning and positive social change, opposing poverty and racism as factors in society and seeking ways to reduce disparities between rich and poor; white and black; men and women. For five years he co-edited the Journal of Planning Education and Research and for nine years he co-edited Housing Studies.

In 2011, Chuck began a two year term as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, the national learned society of planning schools, faculty, and students in the US. His current research is an assessment (part history, part contemporary analysis) of Iowa's community efforts at promoting sustainability which builds on Connerly's work with the community engagement initiative of which he is the principal founder, the UI Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities.

Bart Cramer
Bart Cramer in Canada
Adjunct Lecturer
Ph.D., Economic Geography, University of Iowa
Transportation Economics and Planning
Livable Cities
GIS applications

After a career in exploration with a major international oil company, I returned to academia and completed a Ph.D. in transportation / economic geography, examining the rejuvenation of the North American freight rail industry. I have lived in a number of US cities and also lived and traveled in Western Europe, as well as making business and pleasure trips to Canada (see photo), Mexico, Madagascar and Bolivia. In my teaching I am able to draw on my experiences with a wide variety of developing and developed country conditions, and on varying location and culture-dependent approaches to transportation, energy, and other planning issues.

Peter Fisher
Peter Fisher
Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin
Public Policy Economics
State and Local Economic Development Policy
Poverty and Social Policy
Infrastructure Finance

All of my teaching and research activities share a common foundation in public sector economics and urban economics. My core course Economics for Policy Analysis I is intended to provide those same foundations to planning students. My recent research has focused on critical appraisals of the use of tax incentives as an economic development tool, particularly in enterprise zones; this has complemented my teaching in the area of development finance.A second major interest of mine is how the market system generates income inequality, and how state and local public policies and planning activities are shaped by, and in turn aggravate or alleviate, the problems of poverty and the fragmentation of metropolitan areas by income and race. These issues are a central focus of my course Poverty, Planning and Public Policy. I also believe that students need a solid grounding in analytical techniques. Major portions of my elective courses Community Development Finance and Financing Local Government are devoted to techniques of financial analysis applied to financing businesses in low-income neighborhoods or to problems in financing or pricing urban infrastructure.

John Fuller
Professor, Associate Chair, and Director of Graduate Studies
Ph.D., Economics, Washington State University
Transportation Planning

The focus of my teaching and research has been transportation planning. I acquired over a decade of practical experience following the completion of my Ph.D., working in the Planning Division of a state Department of Transportation, and as the deputy executive director for the National Transportation Policy Study Commission. With my experience in producing transport plans, I teach a graduate course on how to develop transportation plans. In Transportation Planning Process, students analyze and evaluate actual air, rail, highway and urban plans and determine what is required to improve current plans. The Transportation Program Seminar Series allows students to explore current topics of interest in transportation.

I have recently been involved with the development of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a U.S. Department of Transportation bureau which makes accessible a variety of information needed to improve transportation planning and policy making. My international interests include lecturing and grant affiliations in Venezuela, and consulting with Venezuela's ministry and metro rail system. A current focus has been cross-national comparison of transport information, and I am now working on reports covering transportation in Canada, Mexico and Japan.

Bob Gassman
Adjunct Lecturer
M.Arch., Architecture, Iowa State University
Graphic Communication

Bob is a lifelong Iowa resident who moved to Iowa City in 2009 to join Neumann Monson Architects. Trained as an architect, Bob maintains a broad knowledge of art and design, and practices as a multi-disciplinary designer. While at Neumann Monson, Bob has contributed to a variety of local projects, such as: The University of Iowa West Campus Transportation Facility, The University of Iowa School of Music, Park@201 mixed-use building and the Packing House in downtown Iowa City, Dubuque Intermodal Campus, and the Ames Intermodal Transportation Facility. In 2008, Bob and his partner Shannon founded zzGassman Design Workshop. Together they have completed graphic and web design projects for: The Berklee College of Music, Draft Journal, Defunct Magazine, Iowa Architect Magazine, and Tombo Studio. Bob has been teaching an array of design courses since 2006. With interests that range from film to music, art to architecture, and planning to product design, his courses reveal that design has a profound impact on the lives of every living thing. From the buttons on our shirts, to the foods that we eat, to the road signs we pass by daily, design is everywhere and may be the single greatest factor that influences the quality of our lives and our world.

Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning and Engineering
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Transportation Planning
Urban and Environmental Infrastructure Planning
Planning Methodology

My major teaching and research interests are: urban and environmental infrastructure planning, computer technology in planning, and planning methodology. I draw on my undergraduate and graduate education in civil engineering, my formal planning education as well as my experiences as a professional planner, to research the question "How does infrastructure planning, design, and provision affect the natural and built environments?" I introduce analytical methods to planning students in my core course. My other courses extend the analytical methods to the evaluation of the impacts of transportation and environmental infrastructure on society.

Rick Havel
Rick Havel
Adjunct Lecturer
M.S., Resource Planning, Southwest Missouri State University
Applied GIS

Teaching the Applied GIS for Planners course with my colleague Dan Swartzendruber, has provided me the opportunity to share my experiences as a GIS Coordinator for Johnson County, Iowa with the students. GIS effects how county departments collect and disseminate information, especially within the Planning and Zoning Department. Applied GIS in Planning exposes students with little GIS experience to the potential that this type of system can offer an organization if properly managed and maintained. As the demand on the world's resources continues to increase, having timely and accurate computer models of reality produced within a GIS will be critical to proper planning and administration activities.

Tanya Kooi
Admissions Coordinator
M.A., Student Development, University of Iowa

As the Admissions Coordinator for the School of Urban and Regional Planning my main role is to assist prospective students with the application process and to spread the word about what the program entails and offers its students.  My professional experience includes working with federally funded TRIO programs for many years, including eight years at the University of Kansas McNair Scholars Program.  In my most recent position I worked as the Program Coordinator for the Franklin Residential College at the University of Georgia.  I am happy to be living in Iowa again, after growing up in the northwest part of the state and attending Iowa State University as an undergraduate student.  I have a master’s degree in Student Development in Postsecondary Education from the University of Iowa, and am excited to be back at Iowa and advising students in this position.

Lucie Laurian
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The interactions between urban populations and their environments
The implementation of local environmental plans
Public participation
The linkages between planning and public health

Lucie studies the effects of toxic sites on local populations and the participation of citizens in environmental planning decision-making processes. Some of her previous research, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, focused on the effects of Superfund sites on the communities surrounding them. She now works on the evaluation of Community Advisory Boards as participatory mechanisms used for the cleanup of toxic sites.

Since 1998, she has been involved in a New Zealand-based research project on environmental planning processes. The project, titled "Planning Under a Cooperative Mandate," focuses on the implementation of local environmental plans with regard to water quality, urban design, and citizen participation in the planning process. Dr. Laurian is involved in research about the interactions between the planning and public health disciplines. She teaches a "Healthy Cities" class focused on environmental planning and health.

Phuong Nguyen
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Public Administration, Syracuse University
Public Finance
Public Policy

My research interests are in public finance and public policy in various sectors including education, health and transportation in the United States and Vietnam. Recent research has included the fiscal effects of property tax limit repeal and budget referendums on school spending, education finance reform, school quality capitalization, and the benefits and costs of paratransit. In my teaching, I expect students to be active members in all class activities.

Haifeng Qian
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Public Policy, George Mason University
Economic Development
Economic Geography
Regional Science
Public Policy Analysis

Dr. Haifeng Qian joined the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa in August 2014 as an assistant professor. His areas of expertise include regional and local economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation, and public policy analysis. His recent research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Annals of Regional Science, Economic Development Quarterly, Environment and Planning A, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Technology Transfer, Small Business Economics, and Urban Studies. Dr. Qian was a winner of the Charles M. Tiebout Prize in Regional Science from the Western Regional Science Association and a recipient of the Early Career Grant from the Regional Studies Association. He currently serves as an associate editor of two academic journals: Economic Development Quarterly (a Sage Journal) and Regional Studies, Regional Science (a open-access Taylor and Francis journal).

Jeff Schott
Jeff Schott
Adjunct Lecturer
M.A., Political Science, University of Iowa
Planning and City Administration

Schott is the Associate Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. In this capacity, he is responsible for delivery of the Institute of Public Affairs organizational improvement programs to local government elected officials and staff, including: Strategic Planning and Goal Setting, Educational Programs and Information, Professional Development, Public Management Assistance, and Information and Publications.

From 1987–2006, Schott was City Manager for the City of Marion, Iowa, with extensive experience in general administration, budget/finance, human resource management, facilities planning and development, intergovernmental relations, and strategic planning. Schott served as Vice President for Economic development with the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Area Chamber of Commerce from 1986–87. He was also Community Development Director for the City of Marion, Iowa, from 1977–86, Planning Coordinator/Assistant Community Development Director for the City of Muscatine, Iowa from 1975–77, and Comprehensive Planning Coordinator for the City of Utica, New York from 1974–75.

Jim Schwab
Jim Schwab
Adjunct Lecturer
M.A., Urban and Regional Planning and Journalism, University of Iowa
Natural Hazards and Disaster Recovery

Jim Schwab serves as the manager of the American Planning Association's Hazards Planning Research Center. He is also a senior research associate and co-editor of a monthly publication, Zoning Practice. He has increasingly carved out a niche as an expert on natural hazards and disaster recovery over the last 15 or more years. Jim served as the primary author and principal investigator for Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Redevelopment (PAS Report No. 483/484, 1998), which APA produced under a cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also led a more recent project, also funded by FEMA, in which APA produced Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning (No. 560, 2010, and is currently heading APA’s FEMA-supported effort to update the post-disaster classic in a new PAS Report supplemented by extensive web-based resources.

He has been the sole author of two other PAS Reports, Industrial Performance Standards for a New Century (No. 444, 1993) and Planning and Zoning for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (No. 482, 1998). He served as the project manager for a FEMA-supported project in which APA has developed training for planners on the planning provisions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and for the Firewise Communities Post-Workshop Assessment, a contract with the National Fire Protection Association to determine the impact of its Firewise workshops on community behavior. He managed a project funded by the National Fire Protection Association that has resulted in a new PAS Report, Planning for Wildfires (No. 529/530, 2005), co-authored with Stuart Meck. With Stuart Meck and Rebecca Retzlaff, he co-authored Regional Approaches to Affordable Housing (No. 513/514, 2003). He was also the principal investigator and primary author of Tribal Transportation Programs, a 2007 report produced for the Transportation Research Board. He was the project manager and general editor for a new PAS Report, Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development, released in January 2009. In addition, he has worked on hazards and disaster recovery issues in the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, spoken in Taiwan, and was a Visiting Fellow in 2008 for the Centre for Advanced Engineering in New Zealand.

Jim is also the author of two books. The first, Raising Less Corn and More Hell: Midwestern Farmers Speak Out, was published in 1988 by the University of Illinois Press. It is an oral history of the farm crisis that affected the Midwest during the 1980s. The second, Deeper Shades of Green: The Rise of Blue-Collar and Minority Environmentalism in America, was released by Sierra Club Books in 1994. He is currently at work on a book about the 1993 and 2008 Midwest floods.

Jim is an alumnus of the University of Iowa (1985), with M.A.s in both Journalism and Urban and Regional Planning, and has a B.A. in Political Science from Cleveland State University (1973).

Scott Spak
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison
City Planning for Environment Climate and Energy
Defining Evaluating and Refining Planning Approaches to Sustainability
Urban-Scale City and Environmental System Modeling
Application of Science in U.S. and International Environmental Policy

Scott's research and teaching focus on understanding how urban human and environmental systems respond to changes in technology, policy, land use, and society. He teaches courses on environmental policy, megacities and dynamic systems modeling. Scott uses coupled Earth and human systems models at urban and regional scales to provide actionable forecasts, evaluate sustainable development strategies and inform policies that address the interconnected nature of energy, economic, and environmental issues. He works with local, state, and national agencies to implement integrated environmental forecasting systems and embed them in policies and planning.

Full C.V.

Steven Spears
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Planning, Policy & Design, University of California, Irvine
Transportation Planning
Travel Behavior
Active Living
Applied GIS

My current research focuses on understanding how attitudes, perceptions, and habits affect transportation choices, and how these psychological factors interact with urban design to influence travel behavior and physical activity. I am particularly interested in how travel and residential location preferences evolve over time, and how they respond to changes in the built environment, life stage, and social support.

Since 2011, I have collaborated on the Neighborhood Travel and Activity Study (NTAS). The NTAS is the first experimental-control longitudinal study of a major transportation investment in California, and one of very few evaluations of this type conducted nationwide. It examines travel behavior dynamics and physical activity change associated with the opening of the Exposition light rail line in a largely low-income, minority community in south Los Angeles.

Aaron Strong
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Economics, University of Colorado, Boulder
Environmental Economics

My broad interests lie in environmental economics, specifically: (a) how do municipalities price water and how do pricing and non-pricing policies interact at the individual household level; (b) understanding the interactions between ecosystems and the economy with a special interest in rangeland management and general equilibrium analyses;  and (c) growth management of urban areas in particular how do policies from one municipality spill over to other areas.  My hope is to inform non-economists about why economics and policy analysis is valuable to a broader understanding of the world and how we interact with it.

Dan Swartzendruber
Dan Swartzendruber
Adjunct Lecturer
M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Iowa
Applied GIS

I have approximately 10 years of experience as a Planner; initially for Johnson County and now for Linn County, Iowa. In my current position as Planning and Zoning Division Manager for Linn County, I have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects involving current and long-range planning activities. Of particular interest to me is the integration of the county's GIS into the framework of the development review process, as well as utilizing the technology extensively as an analytical tool for planning studies and plan preparation. My hope is that by integrating relevant, real-world GIS and planning experiences into the course that I co-teach with my colleague Rick Havel, we might better prepare the students in their future careers as Planners.

David Swenson
David Swenson
Adjunct Lecturer and Research Scientist (ISU)
M.S., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Iowa
Economic Impact Assessment

I am a staff regional scientist in the department of economics and a lecturer in community and regional planning at Iowa State University. My research focus is in small area economic analysis, community economics education, and the regional consequence of economic and social change. I conduct many industrial assessments annually, which include industrial and fiscal impact studies associated with firm growth or decline, and I directly consult with or provide technical assistance to state and local government agencies and to other public associations. As an instructor, I teach planning analysis and techniques courses at Iowa State University, and an introduction to economic impact assessment at the University of Iowa.

Jim Throgmorton
Jim Throgmorton teaching on the steps of the Old Capitol
Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, University of California LA
Planning theory, persuasive storytelling, and the rhetorics of planning practice
Planning for sustainable places
History of urban and regional planning
Innovative approaches to resolving conflicts

In my courses and research, I have sought to construct and articulate persuasive visions of what might constitute a just and sustainable future for cities and regions. I have also sought to teach practical and politically-astute ways to understand, address, and potentially resolve the conflicts which inevitably occur when visions conflict. When discussing conflict and its potential resolution through argumentation, negotiation, mediation, and collaborative processes, I drew heavily on my own diverse practical experiences. These included being a planner, a consultant, a researcher, an elected city councilman, and a human rights and environmental advocate.

Conceiving of planning as a process that is simultaneously political and technical, I encouraged students to read and listen actively; that is, to discern how particular planning-related arguments are constructed, how those arguments are linked to larger narratives, and how those narratives often tend to obscure or ignore the potential merits of other arguments and narratives. Given the planner's need to act within a context of differing interests and perspectives, I also taught students how to argue persuasively in the face of questions and counter-claims. To teach these skills well, I found it important to conduct most of my classes as a dialogue between the readings, the students, and myself.

Although I no longer will be teaching in the classroom, I expect to practice what I have taught by working on important issues facing the people of Iowa City, Iowa and the United States.