UT Arlington to merge architecture, urban affairs schools, hires dean

Nan Ellin, newly-appointed dean of UT Arlington’s combined School of Architecture and School of Urban and Public Affairs. 


The University of Texas at Arlington is combining its School of Architecture with its School of Urban and Public Affairs into a new college that school officials believe will raise the profile of the university in design, architecture, urban planning and public affairs.

To lead this ambitious project, UT Arlington has hired Nan Ellin, currently chair of the University of Utah Department of City and Metropolitan Planning. She was named Thursday as the founding dean of the newly formed UTA Schools of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs. She will start her new position on Jan. 5. Prior to joining the University of Utah, Ellin held several leadership roles at Arizona State University, directing programs in planning, Urban and Metropolitan Studies and a doctoral program in architecture and environmental design. She held ASU faculty positions in Planning and Urban Design and in the School of Sustainability, the School of Public Affairs and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. She is the author of numerous books and articles including Good Urbanism: Six Steps to Creating Prosperous Places, Integral Urbanism, and Postmodern Urbanism.

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“Dr. Ellin’s depth and breadth of experience that bridges the disciplines of architecture, planning and urban and public affairs will help position UT Arlington as the center for excellence in all aspects of sustainable urban development,” President Vistasp Karbhari said in a news release. “Her impressive background of civic and community involvement will be a valuable asset not just to the new College but to our entire region as we address the challenges and opportunities of the Metroplex becoming a megacity.” Ellin said she was drawn to UT Arlington by the University’s unique role as the major public research institution at the center of the fast-growing North Texas region and an appreciation for the region’s architectural heritage. “President Karbhari’s vision for joining the schools into one college, and the opportunity that allows, is amazing,” she said. “When you bring architecture, urban planning and public affairs together, the synergies are tremendous.” The integration of the School of Architecture and the School of Urban and Public Affairs emerged as a strategy toward accelerating UT Arlington’s support for sustainable urban communities through the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions, Global Impact, a study conducted by the university that was published recently.

The new college will leverage the combined reputation and faculty of the two schools that date to the late 1960s to strengthen the impact that UT Arlington programs have on the world, according to the university’s news release. The combination of the two schools has been the subject of talk at the university for some time. But one of the university’s most successful graduates, Ralph Hawkins, chairman of the global architecture firm HKS,, served on the dean’s selection committee and said Ellin is well prepared to move the programs forward. In Utah, Ellin has been credited with overseeing a highly successful accreditation review, raising the stature of the planning department, building strong community partnerships and helping increase student diversity. “As a member of the selection committee, I am delighted to welcome Nan Ellin, as the dean to lead the newly created college over both our School of Architecture and School of Urban and Public Affairs,” Hawkins said. “Dr. Ellin brings a unique experience in both planning and architecture to lead these disciplines to national prominence for UT Arlington and ultimately for our communities.” The UT Arlington School of Architecture is the only such school in North Texas and offers degrees in architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, as well as a certificate in property repositioning and turnaround.

The Texas Legislature established the School of Urban and Public Affairs as a research and technical resource for local governments and nonprofit entities. The school includes the Institute of Urban Studies, contributes to the Arlington Urban Design Center at Arlington City Hall and offers master’s degrees in Urban Affairs and Policy, City and Regional Planning and Public Administration and doctoral degrees in Urban and Public Administration and Urban Planning and Public Policy. Ellin earned her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and earned her graduate degrees from Columbia University in New York, including master’s degrees in both anthropology and urban planning and a doctorate in urban planning with a concentration in urban design. She also is a Fulbright Scholar who studied in France and is fluent in French and Spanish. Ellin also has served on the faculty at New York University, the University of Southern California, the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the University of Cincinnati.- Robert Francis, rfrancis@bizpress.net