Van Zandt takes LAUP dept. helm

Van Zandt was quoted often in Harvey’s wake.

Shannon Van Zandt, a distinguished educator, researcher, author and administrator who joined the Texas A&M College of Architecture faculty in 2005, is the new head of the university’s [Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning] ( .

Her impeccable credentials and outstanding performance as the department’s interim head since fall 2016 made Van Zandt the clear choice for the position, said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture.

“Her solid foundation of knowledge and experience provides visionary leadership for the department,” said Vanegas. “She is a model of collegiality and a tremendous asset to the student body, faculty, and staff. I look forward to working with her to lead and strengthen LAUP in its mission to reach the highest levels of excellence in teaching, research and service.”

Van Zandt has also served as assistant LAUP head, coordinator of the Master of Urban Planning program and director of the Center for Housing and Urban Development.

Since joining the Texas A&M faculty, Van Zandt, who holds the Nicole and Kevin Youngblood Professorship in Residential Land Development, has led graduate planning classes and mentored students aspiring to become professional planners.

She has also served on more than 140 graduate final study committees, including more than 40 outside her discipline. Her students, individually and in groups, have won an abundance of regional and state awards for their work.

A prolific researcher, she has led or co-led projects with more than $3 million in funding from a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Her projects focus on environmental justice and social equity issues in urban planning, with an emphasis on housing policy and environmental hazards. She examines affordable housing programs and their effects on low-income households, explores the effects of federal, state and local housing policies on the sustainability of low-income homeownership, and seeks to understand the fundamental sources of inequality in home ownership and in recovery from natural disasters.

Her research grants have funded nearly 50 student research positions, and she has published journal articles or books with contributions from eight students.

Van Zandt’s research findings are detailed in “ [Planning for Community Resilience] ( ,” which she co-authored in 2014, and in more than 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, professional papers and technical reports.

Her findings show how the spatial distribution of low-income, elderly, minority or other socially vulnerable populations can increase those households’ exposure to natural disasters, as well as the short- and long-term housing consequences that follow disasters. Her oft-cited work regularly appears in essential planning texts.

A certified planner with the [American Planning Association] ( , Van Zandt also serves on the board of the [Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service] ( , the advisory committee of [Texas Sea Grant] ( , and has testified numerous times to Texas legislators regarding housing obstacles that face families recovering from natural disasters.

Van Zandt earned a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina in 2004, and [Master of Urban Planning] ( and [Bachelor of Environmental Design] ( degrees at Texas A&M in 1997 and 1993, respectively.

Richard Nira

posted April 11, 2018