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Celebrating Our 50th Anniversaries

July 21, 2017

The School of Architecture (SOA) and the School of Urban and Public Affairs (SUPA) no longer exist as independent schools — in 2015, they became part of a new collaborative, the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA). To honor the rich histories of these two schools, CAPPA will host the “SOA + SUPA 50th Anniversaries Exhibit” from September 5th through November 17th in the Max W. Sullivan Gallery located in the CAPPA building. The rich histories and significant contributions of the SOA and SUPA to education, design, planning, research, and service — and the uncovering of some surprising historical overlaps and encounters — will be remembered, retold, and recorded with an eye to the present and future.

The program that would become the School of Architecture was first offered in 1948, as Architectural Studies, a two-year technical program taught in the Department of Engineering. With the foresight of three young faculty members — Dan Spears, Richard Ferrier and Lee Wright — a new Department of Architecture was established in the College of Liberal Arts in 1970. By 1974, after significant expansion of its faculty and programs, the Department of Architecture became independent and acquired the administrative status of a School: the School of Architecture and Environmental Design.

With the creation of the Landscape Architecture program in 1975, and the incorporation of the Interior Design program into the School by 1974, the SOA established itself as the leading professional design program in North Texas. SOA would further develop its reputation nationally and internationally by receiving numerous design competition awards, establishing significant research agencies, and most importantly by producing over 5,000 highly trained creative thinkers and builders as its graduates.

The program that would become the School of Urban and Public Affairs was first established in 1967 as the Institute of Urban Studies by an act of the Texas State Legislature. The legislation was in response to national urban unrest and large-scale protests of the 1960s, and a desire by the State of Texas to designate an urban university that would offer first-class academic assistance to cities to tackle many of the critical urban issues. Operations began in 1968 with a mandate to develop an ongoing research program to address problems emerging with the urbanization of Texas. The Institute was perfectly situated to fulfill its mandate — right in the heart of a living urban laboratory, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

The complexity and nature of urban issues required an interdisciplinary approach, and the Institute hired three inaugural faculty members — Drs. Paul Geisel a sociologist, James Cornehls an economist, and Delbert Taebel a political scientist — to develop the initial Master of Urban Affairs program, which began with a student body of less than thirty. By 1990, the Institute of Urban Studies, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Cole, became the School of Urban and Public Affairs, which offered three masters programs (Urban Affairs, City and Regional Planning, and Public Administration), two doctoral programs (Public and Urban Administration, and Urban Planning and Public Policy), and six professional certificate programs. SUPA would grow to national prominence, to be listed by U.S. News and World Report as among the nation’s “best graduate schools in Urban Affairs,” and as one of only twenty universities across the U.S. offering both fully-accredited Master of Public Administration and Master of City and Regional Planning degrees. The core three-pronged mission has continued throughout SUPA’s 50-year history.

To celebrate these two incredible journeys, the September 2017 Exhibit will display timelines, photographs, significant reports and publications, models and drawings, and an oral history video featuring the rich chronicles of these two schools. Two commemorative booklets that portray the content of the Exhibit will also be available.

Read the full UTA news release about the schools' 50th anniversaries.