2019 Message from the Director: SPDC celebrates 15th anniversary

The School of Planning, Design and Construction, a young school established in 2004, celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2019.

Professor Ming-Han Li dressed up for Halloween.

The School of Planning, Design and Construction, a young school established in 2004, celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2019. What better way to mark the passage of 15 years than to engage in a strategic planning process for our future success?

Our colleagues seized the moment to reflect on what has been accomplished, what still needs to be done, what our strengths and weaknesses are, what our School’s future looks like, etc. We identified five strategic issues:

  1. Unified School identity,
  2. Teaching and learning,
  3. Funding model,
  4. Resource management, and
  5. Interdisciplinary research.

We updated our vision, mission and core values as follows.

Vision: We collaborate to create sustainable and healthy built, natural, and virtual environments.

Mission: We advance the knowledge, prepare innovative leaders, and support the practice of planning, design, and construction.

Core values:   

  • We pursue academic excellence.
  • We nurture a culture of respect, trust, support, and empowerment.
  • We value interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • We embrace diversity, equity and inclusion

The final document of the School’s strategic plan will be completed in spring 2020; implementation of key tactics identified through this process are already underway.

I am glad that our university has chosen a permanent president. President Samuel Stanley, Jr. started in August and has been actively meeting each college to learn about the university. His seven initial presidential priorities include:

  • Safe and welcoming campus,
  • Student success and well-being,
  • Accountability,
  • Research portfolio,
  • Storytelling of MSU’s impact,
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion, and
  • Srategic plan.

What I have learned is that the MSU community welcomes the new president’s arrival and has been impressed by his communication style. MSU’s bright future is ahead of us!

We have been very busy searching for new faculty members this year. Each of the four programs had a search, and we were fortunate to fill all positions with top quality candidates: George Berghorn (construction management), Laura Winter (interior design), Wonmin Sohn (landscape architecture), and Barbara Andersen (urban & regional planning).

We celebrated three faculty members’ success. Peilei Fan was promoted to full professor. Both Linda Nubani and Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani were re-appointed for their second probationary period as assistant professors.

To facilitate interdisciplinary thinking and appreciation for young minds, we launched a new freshmen level course called “Introduction to the Built Environment” in the fall semester. This is the first common course for SPDC, and an opportunity for non-SPDC students to learn about relevant professions for the built environment. The instructor and advisors have heard positive feedback from the students.

To address our priorities in 1) Diversity, equity and inclusion, 2) Technology and 3) Lecture series, we formed three ad hoc committees. Each committee is charged to create a long-term plan for the School to adopt and implement.

Dr. Herb Norman who taught urban and regional planning courses at MSU for more than 30 years has retired to North Carolina this past summer. He has spent most of his time working on home renovation and exploring coastal North Carolina. Norman looks forward to relaxing, reading espionage fiction and traveling. He will be missed by many.

I want to emphasize that a unified School, while maintaining each program’s identity, is my vision for “One SPDC.” I have taken some steps to steer us toward this vision. Highlights include an open house, a subsidy program to recruit new doctoral students, interdisciplinary research fund, mini-grants, etc.

Engaging with alumni is one of my priority areas. While Construction Management and Landscape Architecture alumni boards have been active in supporting the School/program, Interior Design and Urban & Regional Planning are about to establish their alumni advisory boards.

I look forward to working with each alumnus so that they are closely informed of and engaged with SPDC. Their continuing support and commitment to helping us is touching and greatly appreciated.

I feel fortunate to be a part of this community, because of our passion and desire to create sustainable and healthy built, natural and virtual environments. I believe that I have the best job because of the excellent students we have, and dedicated, talented colleagues we attract and retain.

This enewsletter only captures a glimpse of the many accomplishments of the School in 2019. Our social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) provides frequent updates. Please visit us online to read more stories.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to the year of 2020. Thank you!

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