University of Oklahoma City Planning Program Celebrates 75th Anniversary, Earns Reaccreditation

The Gibbs College of Architecture’s Division of Regional + City Planning recently celebrated its 75th anniversary as well as its successful Planning Accreditation Board reaccreditation.  

Dean of Gibbs College, Hans Butzer writes, “In light of the great 75-year history of our Regional + City Planning program, it’s not surprising we’ve once again been re-accredited. The review from the Planning Accreditation Board found a program without any areas of concern and was profusive in its praise. Credit goes to our nationally recognized faculty and to our impressive students and alumni who define the program’s impact and greatness.” 

Established in 1947, the Gibbs Regional + City Planning program is the seventh oldest planning program in the United States. The program boasts over 700 hundred alumni who spend their careers shaping the future of communities across the country.  

Preparing Planners & Leaders

The RCPL program, which currently includes forty-three students, prepares its graduates for careers in planning with cities, states, federal agencies, firms, and nonprofits. In 2021, the Gibbs Regional + City Planning program became the first accredited program in the country to include planning with diverse communities in their required core curriculum. This is just one of the many actions that the RCPL program has taken to improve equity and inclusion in the field of planning. These actions have contributed to the RCPL program currently having its highest and most diverse enrollment in the program’s history.  

The Regional + City Planning program directly improves the quality of life in Oklahoma and across the globe through applied faculty research, direct community engagement, and real-world classroom learning. Students and alumni have benefited from this experience, working with communities on comprehensive planning services, collecting essential data for nonprofits or state agencies on homelessness or economic development, working alongside war-affected women in Uganda to develop strategies to confront the challenges of rebuilding communities and lives, and more.  

Emily Fitzsimmons, a current RCPL student, spoke about the program, “A common theme in our curriculum is that people are the foundation of a community. Likewise, the foundation of the RCPL community is the faculty: With this academically and emotionally intelligent group of leaders, the program has not only been successful in seeing its 75th anniversary or in being re-accredited but also in bolstering a community of capable and kind planners.” 

High Quality Planning Education

The RCPL program has also achieved successful reaccreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board, which confirms the high quality of education that RCPL students receive. Accreditation also allows graduates of the RCPL program to more quickly achieve American Institute of Planners Certification, which is the only nationwide, independent verification of planners’ qualifications. This certification is very valuable to a planner’s career opportunities.  

The Planning Accreditation Board has strict requirements for accredited programs. Dr. John Harris, Director of the Regional + City Planning program, “Accreditation through the Planning Accreditation Board ensures that our students are receiving a top-notch professional education preparing them for meaningful careers. It also means our faculty are making major contributions through research and community engagement to helping communities across the globe find ways to improve quality of life. Our recent 7-year re-accreditation, the longest term a program can receive, lets us know we are building a standout city planning program. We are very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.” 

Two of the members of RCPL Board of Visitors and RCPL alumni also commented on the history and accreditation of the program:

Ben Davis, Deputy Executive Director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, wrote, “I am so proud of the efforts Dr. Harris and his team have made to improve the Regional and City Planning program. By attaining the Planning Accreditation Board’s longest accreditation term possible, the program is ensuring that it can attract students and produce planning professionals who are well-prepared to help their communities develop sustainably and inclusively.” 

Kim Cooper-Hart, Principal Planner for the City of Oklahoma City, wrote, “As the OU RCPL celebrates its 75th year, it is with greatest pride that we announce our continuing and recently renewed seven-year accreditation with the national Planning Accreditation Board.  This accreditation is a highly valued marker of approval from the planning profession and the American Planning Association. Through the dedication and commitment of the RCPL faculty, staff, Oklahoma Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the RCPL Board of Visitors, we remain in faithful in our service to students, scholars, and planning professionals for generations to come.” 

Congratulations to the Regional + City Planning department on their 75th anniversary and well-earned reaccreditation! Read more news from the Regional + City Planning program here