↑ top

Distinguished University Professor Lecture: June Manning Thomas, "The Legacy of Planning: Lessons from Detroit"

Distinguished University Professor Lecture: June Manning Thomas, "The Legacy of Planning:  Lessons from Detroit"

Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor of Urban Planning

Urban planning has made an imprint on many U. S. cities, even the ones that don’t seem to show its effects.  The evolution of post-war planning has been a road characterized by stages of great confidence in laying out comprehensive plans, targeted destruction of largely-minority neighborhoods, experimentation in social reform, quiet regulation of lagging development and faltering neighborhoods, and recapture of central business district ascendancy.  What have we learned, from this fitful evolution, about social equity and community development?  What are the problematic aspects of this planning legacy, and what are the triumphs?  

Join for a reception prior to the lecture, 5pm in the 3rd Floor Studio Space

About the award:
Established in 1947, Distinguished University Professorships recognize full professors for exceptional scholarly or creative achievement, national and international reputation, and superior teaching skills. Each professorship bears a name determined by the appointive professor in consultation with her or his dean. Manning Thomas chose to be named the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor of Urban Planning. Centennial Professor of Urban and Regional Planning June Manning Thomas will give the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University of Michigan Professor of Urban Planning Lecture at Taubman College. As one of nine faculty members university-wide to receive this top faculty honor this year, Professor Thomas is also the first faculty member at Taubman College to receive this prestigious designation.

Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor of Urban Planning Centennial Professor of Urban and Regional Planning June Manning Thomas will give the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University of Michigan Professor of Urban Planning Lecture at Taubman College. As one of nine faculty members university-wide to receive this top faculty honor this year, Thomas is also the first faculty member at Taubman College to receive this prestigious designation. 

Thomas is a pre-eminent scholar on how racial inequality and disunity have affected the planning, evolution, and redevelopment of cities and their neighborhoods. Her work focuses on economically distressed central cities, addressing issues of planning theory and socialjustice. Her co-edited book Urban Planning and the African American Community: In the Shadows is a path-breaking exploration of key connections between racial injustice and urban planning. Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit won the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s Paul Davidoff Award for urban planning books published in in the area of social justice. She has written or co-edited three additional books related to race and poverty in Detroit and in other depopulated cities in the Midwest as well as dozens of book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. She also has written policy reports for the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. 

Her recent research explores community development in Detroit and the 1960s civil rights movement in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where she helped integrate the local high school. Her research has been widely recognized by numerous academic awards including her election as a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. She is a prominent and highly effective national advocate for diversity and inclusion of under-represented faculty and students in urban planning academic programs. In 2013 she was named president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, where she encouraged greater racial diversity in the nation’s urban planning schools. 

Recognized as an outstanding and inspirational teacher, Thomas was a founding instructor for the U-M Residential College’s Semester in Detroit program, teaching at the U-M Detroit Center from 2011 to 2015. Her graduate course in planning theory is a defining experience for many graduate students, emphasizing ethics and challenging students to consider how the planning process interacts with and affects disadvantaged communities without access to decision-makers. In recognition of her many contributions in the classroom and of her wider service on behalf of a more inclusive University, Professor Thomas was awarded the 2014 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award. 

Thomas earned her B.A. from Michigan State University in 1970, with a major in sociology. Awarded Danforth, National Science Foundation, and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, she entered the doctoral program in the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Michigan, earning her Ph.D. in 1977 with a dissertation studying the loss of land ownership among African-Americans in South Carolina. She taught at Michigan State University before accepting a position in 2007 as the Centennial Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Program of the A. Alfred Taubman College Architecture and Urban Planning.