February 2, 2005

Program seeks to educate ‘smart growth’ professionals

Beginning in the fall of 2005, Sacramento State will offer a new graduate program focused on urban land development from both a private and government point of view.

The goal is to turn out graduates who understand both sides of a situation that is often confrontational, and who can make projects work in the interests of both developers and the communities in which they build.

The new master’s degree in urban land development will be offered jointly by the departments of Organizational Behavior and Environment, and Public Policy and Administration. Development of the program was led by Jaime Alvayay, professor of real estate and land use and executive director of the CSU Real Estate and Land Use Institute, and Ted Lascher and Rob Wassmer, professors in Public Policy and Administration.

Wassmer says he hopes the new Master’s program will help to generate a new breed of professionals who can better plan, construct, manage, and even govern the immense amount of new urban development the Sacramento region will see in the next 50 years. The goal is to turn out an enlightened entrepreneur who will be able to profitably build in a way that discourages sprawl and promotes infill, livable and affordable development.

That’s the type of growth that many Sacramento area communities say they want and many experts say California needs. Such development is intended to reduce the need for long commutes, improve air quality and promote friendlier neighborhoods, among other things.

“The Sacramento Region will grow, and the mantra is that it must grow smartly, potential and current developers recognize this and they have expressed a strong interest in graduate learning that would help them accomplish it,” Wassmer says. “Sacramento State already has a core of faculty who teach courses related to enlightened urban development, and we realized we could put together an attractive program with the existing expertise we have in the two departments.”

Alvayay adds, “The program blends education in private development and public policy, and is the only interdisciplinary graduate program in urban land development offered in Northern California.”

In developing the program, the departments depended on advice from alumni and land use professionals. Among those most heavily involved were members of the University’s Urban Land Development Advisory Board, which includes: Sotiri Kolokotronis of SKK Developments; Julie Lave Johnson; Randy Sater, senior vice president of Teichert Inc.; Tom Stallard, owner of Rose Colored Glass Company; Al Giannini, managing director at CB Richard Ellis; Carl Panattoni of Panattoni Development Company; County Supervisor Susan Peters; and Marty Tuttle, executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

About 15 students will make up the first class in the program this fall. Applications are being accepted through April 1, and there already has been strong interest by potential students.

Wassmer estimates that a full-time student will be able to finish the program in two years.

Classes will be offered primarily in the evenings and on Saturdays to fit the schedule of working professionals. They will include a broad array of subjects such as public and urban economic analysis, data analysis, negotiation, real estate investment, geographic information systems, urban policy formulation and governance, and personnel management.

And students will do a final real-world project or report related to urban development, rather than a traditional thesis. That final project should take about a semester to complete.

More information is available by contacting the Graduate Programs Office at 278-6772 or the Public Policy and Administration Department at 278-6557. Professor Wassmer can be reached at rwassme@csus.edu and professor Alvayay can be reached at alvayayj@csus.edu
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