Former CHUD director Van Zandt takes reins of LAUP department

Shannon van Zandt

Van Zandt

Van Zandt is also part of a national effort to help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

Shannon Van Zandt, an experienced administrator, prolific researcher and professor of urban planning, recently took the reins of the  Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning as interim department head.

“Dr. Van Zandt has an unequivocal commitment to her department and to the college,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture, when announcing the appointment.

Van Zandt replaces Forster Ndubisi, who stepped down as department head August 31 after a 12-year appointment. Ndubisi will return to full-time teaching and research as a departmental faculty member following a fall 2016 administrative leave.

Since joining the Texas A&M faculty in 2005, Van Zandt has taught every graduate planning student in the past decade and served on more than 140 graduate final study committees, including more than 40 outside LAUP. Her students, individually or in groups, have won numerous regional and state awards for their work.

Before her appointment as interim department head, Van Zandt headed Texas A&M’s Master of Urban Planning program and served ad director of the University’s Center for Housing and Urban Development.

Van Zandt, a Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center faculty research fellow, has headed numerous projects funded by more than $3 million in external grants from the National Science Foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Housing & Urban Development.

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

Her research findings, detailed in the 2014 book “Planning for Community Resilience” and more than 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, professional papers and technical reports, show how the spatial distribution of low-income, elderly, minority or other socially vulnerable populations can increase those households’ exposure to natural disasters, and the short- and long-term housing consequences that follow disasters.  

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 disaster recovery. 

She 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.

posted September 1, 2016