people gather outdoors to watch speaker at reunion event

Urban Planning Marks Half a Century of Action-Oriented Scholarship Alumni, faculty, students and friends gather to honor the program's activist ethos and focus on equity since its launch in 1969

It was a celebration 50 years in the making, plus a few for good measure.

UCLA Urban Planning, launched in 1969, marked its golden anniversary this spring with a series of events aimed at showcasing the program’s activist ethos and focus on equity.

As a finale, alumni from across the decades joined students, faculty, staff and friends at a May 14 commemoration, “50 Years of Scholarship to Solutions.”

Dolores Hayden, professor emerita at Yale University and noted scholar of the history of the American urban landscape, delivered a keynote address to the Urban Planning community. Panels of faculty, doctoral students and alumni, moderated by Cecilia Estolano MA UP ’91, explored UCLA Luskin’s latest research.

The crowd then moved to UCLA’s Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden to enjoy music, food and drink, and reminisce about the last half-century of making a difference in Los Angeles and cities around the world.

During the gathering, Jacqueline Waggoner MA UP ’96, a member of the UCLA Luskin Board of Advisors, gave an update on the new Urban Planning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund, established to support student fellowships and assistantships.

Since March, the 50th anniversary celebration has hosted thought leaders on planning, policy and environmental justice.

They included L.A. City Council member Nithya Raman, an urban planner by training, who came to UCLA to speak about the need for creative solutions of all types to make headway against the crisis of homelessness.

Environmental advocate Elizabeth Yeampierre shared stories about the power of front-line communities working for climate justice.

And Robert Bullard, known as the father of environmental justice, spoke of the undercurrent of racial discrimination beneath the growing climate crisis.

Several other speakers appeared as part of the Harvey S. Perloff Environmental Thinkers Series.

The weekslong commemoration also included an afternoon marking the legacy of Martin Wachs, scholar, mentor and key influencer of transportation policy and planning. Wachs, who died in 2021, held top research and leadership posts at UCLA and UC Berkeley for over five decades.

On May 13, students, colleagues and friends gathered to remember his impact and watch as Wachs’ wife, Helen, accepted two prestigious honors on his behalf: the Planning Pioneer award and the Planner Emeritus Network Honor award from the California chapter of the American Planning Association.

From its beginnings as part of UCLA’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the program has evolved and expanded. In the 1990s, it joined what is now the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and continued to build a reputation of interdisciplinary, action-oriented scholarship.

Ranking among the top planning programs in the nation, UCLA Luskin Urban Planning offers master’s and doctoral degrees in urban and regional planning, as well as several dual-degree programs, including a new partnership with European research university Sciences Po in Paris.

Read more about 50 years of urban planning at UCLA.

View photos from the Urban Planning at 50 celebration.

View photos from the gathering recognizing the legacy of Martin Wachs.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.