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Eugenie Birch: Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research & Education
September 12, 2006, Volume 53, No. 3

Eugenie Birch

Eugenie Ladner Birch has been named the first recipient of the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professorship in Urban Research and Education, in recognition of her many contributions to urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  Established in 2005, the Nussdorf Professorship is endowed by a gift from Clark Enterprises, Inc., in honor of Lawrence C. Nussdorf, Esq. a former Penn trustee and the President and Chief Operating Officer of the company.

Dr. Birch is co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research and chair of the department of city and regional planning in the School of Design.  She came to Penn in 1998 from Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she had been professor of urban affairs and planning and held a variety of administrative posts.

Acknowledged as the leading expert on downtown housing in American cities, Dr. Birch lectures and publishes widely on issues of residential planning, and regularly undertakes sponsored research projects that engage students in her field.  Her recent report for the Brookings Institution, which was the first systematic comparative study of downtown housing, was one of Brookings’ top 10 publications in 2005. 

According to School of Design Dean Gary Hack, “In her nine years at Penn, Genie has put both the Penn Institute for Urban Research and the department of city and regional planning on the map.  In partnership with co-director Dr. Susan Wachter in the Wharton School, she has created one of the most energetic interdisciplinary programs at Penn, engaging faculty from virtually all the schools, and attracting a great deal of attention to our urban resources.  As department chair, she has rebuilt city and regional planning into one of the leading programs in its field, attracting new faculty and students and introducing new fields and research projects.”

Dr. Birch is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Latin America, election as a Fellow of the Urban Land Institute and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and an honorary member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.  In 2002, she served on the Jury to Select Designers for the World Trade Center and the Civic Alliance Charette Team for Lower Manhattan.  She has recently been named to her second term as Chair of the Planning Accreditation Board.  She is a member of the National Advisory Council, Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

Dr. Birch has also been a leader in her profession, serving as president of both the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Society for American City and Regional Planning History.  In addition, she has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, including a term as editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Dr. Birch received her Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University in 1976.  She is a 1965 cum laude graduate from Bryn Mawr College where she received an A.B. in history.

Lawrence Nussdorf (W ’68) is a member of the Institute for Urban Research Board and co-chairs the Graduate School of Education Board of Overseers. He is a founding member of Penn’s Middle Atlantic Regional Advisory Board and is a former member of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors. Mr. Nussdorf and his wife, Melanie Nussdorf (CW ’68) are Penn alumni parents of Jed (ENG ’02, W ’02, WG ’02) and Benjamin (C ’04).


Almanac - September 12, 2006, Volume 53, No. 3