CRP Switches Partners

GSD

The continuing saga of the Graduate School of Design's (GSD) City and Regional Planning (CRP) program took its most bizarre, and possibly final, twist earlier this week as President Bok announced his desire to transfer the program to the Kennedy School of Government.

Bok proposed to wed the troubled CRP program, which has emphasized analytical and public policy program at the Kennedy School. Under Bok's plan, the GSD would replace it with a new urban planning and design program, one with a more traditional physical planning curriculum.

While most observers thought Bok's proposal made sense in light of CRP's evolution, they predicted administrative problems in the transfer of the Design School program to the Kennedy School.

Gerald M. McCue, professor of Architecture and Urban Design and new dean of the GSD as of June 1980, said Bok decided to shift the program because it had moved further and further away from the traditional planning curriculum goals of the GSD.

"CRP currently prepares analysts who become planning adjuncts of government," he said, adding that the school "wants to prepare students who really want to design pieces of new neighborhoods and towns."

Several Design School faculty members have criticized CRP over the past few years for devoting too little attention to traditional planning curricula. Last month a professional planners association renewed its recognition of the program after extensively looking into these criticisms.

Most observers approved of Bok's preliminary decision and said they believed the reform was in line with CRP's program.

"As a department, we've been heading in the same direction as the Kennedy School for many years," Michael Shapiro, assistant professor of City and Regional Planning, said.

He noted that with increased interest in state and local government issues at the Kennedy School, "it was clear that the two groups were moving closer together."

Laurence E. Lynn, professor of Public Policy and chairman of the Kennedy School public policy program, agreed that the two programs already overlap substantially and that a significant number of GSD and public policy students already cross-register.

"The administration had to make the choice between maintaining essentially the same program in two different places or integrating them," Shapiro said.

Most faculty and student concern instead focused upon how CRP would be integrated into the Kennedy School.

"I'm afraid we might be swallowed up by the Kennedy School too quickly and lose some valuable aspects of our program," Helen F. Ladd, assistant Planning, said, reflecting a prominent concern among the CRP faculty.

Shapiro agreed, adding, "Over the long term, I think it's reasonable expectation that CRP will lose its identity and become part of the mass of Kennedy School programs."

On the other hand, students feared their shift to the Kennedy School would close them off from the training in physical design the have been seeking for months.

Kennedy School administrators said the scheme is fraught headaches and hassles because Bok wanted us the [the GSD and the Kennedy School to do it and will have to do it unless we have a good objection.