Dr. Christopher Silver, FAICP and Professor Emeritus, Retires

Dr. Silver is retiring after serving the University of Florida College of Design, Construction, and Planning (DCP) and Department of Urban and Regional Planning (URP) for 16 years.

Dr. Christopher Silver, FAICP, URP Professor Emeritus

May 1, 2022

Dr. Chris Silver, FAICP, retires after serving 16 years at the University of Florida, as both Dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP) and as Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (URP). His service to the University of Florida (UF) and the field of urban planning are innumerable. He will be celebrated as faculty emeritus of the URP department and UF. 

UF DCP Dean Anumba and Dr. Silver, Dr. Silver’s retirement party

Silver holds a distinguished career in academia with a focus on planning history, social justice, sustainability, and international planning. Prior to his service at UF, Silver served as Head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1998-2006) and as Professor of Planning and Associate Dean at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Dr. Silver, Earl Starnes, and Richard Schneider

He began as Dean of DCP in 2006, focusing on three main initiatives: broaden international opportunities for students and faculty; strengthen the historic preservation program; and incorporate sustainability into the department’s curriculum. A previous article, A Decade of Accomplishments, highlights some of the major achievements made under Dean Silver, including the creation of multiple new degree programs: 

– Bachelor of Science in Sustainability and the Built Environment (BSSBE); 
– Master of Historic Preservation; 
– Online Master of Urban and Regional Planning; 
– Master of Sustainable Design; 
– CityLab-Orlando and CityLab-Sarasota 

In addition, Silver merged the Urban and Regional Planning Department and Landscape Architecture into the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, started the DCP research showcase, brought the NEURUS program to UF, and continued to teach multiple courses each year – which is uncommon for a dean. He helped to shape future planners through courses he created: URP 3001, Cities of the World; URP 6610, International Development Planning; URP 6645, Sustainable Urbanism in Europe; as well as previously existing courses like URP 6409, Sustainable Community Development, and The Good Life course(s). 

Silver is a past co-editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association and the founding editor of the Journal of Planning History. He has served as president of the Society of American City and Regional Planning History, vice president and president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), president of the Global Planning Education Association Network, and Executive Secretary of the International Planning History Society. His extensive scholarship includes 8 books (authored, co-authored, and edited), 16 book chapters and 18 refereed articles. He has been awarded four Fulbright Senior Fellowships and has consulted, written, and researched extensively on international topics, specifically Indonesia. His leadership in planning has been recognized with being elevated to the rank of Fellow in the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP), receiving the Martin Meyerson Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award, and being awarded honorary professorships at the University of Indonesia and the Institute of Technology, Bandung. 

Reflecting upon his time with SLAP, Dr. Silver says he most enjoyed getting to know the intricacies within the DCP disciplines, the people in the department, and what they provide to the planning profession. 

Dr. Paul Zwick, Dr. Silver, and Dr. Abdol Chini, UF DCP, Dr. Silver’s retirement party

During his retirement, Dr. Silver says he will split time between Gainesville and Maine and wants to continue with international work through joint appointments. 

Thank you, Dr. Silver, for your service to our department and congratulations on your retirement! 

Personal reflections from faculty, students, and colleagues:

Chris has a love of international travel and culture that he has generously shared with his colleagues and students in multiple and diverse ways.  Long before remote teaching, his students joined on-campus classes via Skype while they were studying in Berlin, Groningen, or Vienna or elsewhere in Europe under the NEURUS program.  For many years, students in spring semester courses missed class during January when they joined students from Cardiff University in Wales in Jakarta to collect data and learned about sustainability.  Students in the Masters of Sustainable Design have traveled to Singapore and the Netherlands each spring for the past decade.  As a faculty member, I too, had the opportunity to benefit from Chris’s commitment to international education.  

Beyond the fun and excitement of international travel, Chris has been a great colleague. He has always been willing to provide advice and wisdom. He has asked the tough question or provided that nuanced perspective when it has been needed.  Finally, he has shared his enthusiasm and knowledge of planning history to our students in both simple and profound ways.  

I had the distinct honor to teach the History and Theory course with Chris during the spring 2022 semester. In that context he was at his best, sharing his wisdom and understanding of the complexity of planning for a racially, culturally, and demographically diverse population in Richmond, Virginia early in his career with the wise and intelligent perspective of many years of teaching urban planning to generations of students.  
Dr. Ruth Steiner, UF URP Professor
Congratulations on your retirement Chris!  It was a pleasure to work with you as a part of the DCP administrative team.  I particularly congratulate you for creating the bachelor’s program in sustainability and the built environment, a highly successful degree that broadened the options for students in the College of Design, Construction and Planning and focused on the important topic of sustainability.  I also salute you for your very productive scholarship all while serving as Dean.  To one of the most energetic people I know I send my best wishes to you and Isabel.
Peggy Carr, UF Professor Emeritus, Department of Landscape Architecture
Chris Silver’s extensive work and leadership in planning history, specifically structural racism, housing, and politics, has informed the work of so many scholars, including my own. My dissertation, focused on the segregated landscape of Orlando, Florida and the role of planning in shaping and maintaining that landscape, drew from the research Chris conducted, particularly The Separate City (1995). It meant a great deal to this junior scholar to have Chris attend my earliest conference presentations at the Society of American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) and to see one of my earliest peer reviewed articles “Harmonious Inequality? Zoning, Public Housing, and Orlando’s Separate City, 1920-1945” published in the second issue of the Journal of Planning History under his editorship. I had the pleasure of sitting on the search committee that led to his hire as college Dean in 2006, where he served for ten years. As Dean, he promoted internationalization of our research and teaching and supported my work as URP Chair in establishing and growing the first fully online graduate planning degree, which is now accredited. These accomplishments and more were recognized with Chris receiving the Martin Meyerson Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award in 2013, which I had the pleasure of supporting with a nomination letter. His rich record of prominent contributions to the field of international planning includes four Fulbright Senior Fellowships and two honorary professorships at major academic institutions in Indonesia. I believe he would agree that among his most significant contributions to international planning involves the many students who enthusiastically engaged with Chris in international studies in Europe and Indonesia. As URP Chair, I witnessed the broadening of their understanding of planning due to the opportunities he made possible. By influencing the next generation of scholars and practitioners, Chris has left an indelible mark on urban and regional planning. And, given his numerous publications and international outreach, I suspect it is a story that will continue into his retirement. I wish him the very best in these endeavors! 
Dr. Kristin Larsen, AICP, UF URP Professor
Dr. Silver’s value proposition for online higher education remains among the most visionary I’ve encountered to date. His belief that to affect large-scale urban change particularly in the global south, not only is up-skilling policy makers important, but so too is creating a next-gen talent pipeline educated from within established  institutions of higher education around the world. He broke online higher education down to its components: content, course facilitation, and learners; and embodied that none of these three needed to be mutually exclusive to one institution. He found ways to remove implementation barriers and disciplinary silos to educate students around the world in urban planning theory and practice. What I learned over the years from working with Dr. Silver as his doctoral student and then as colleagues was that technology was my obstacle to figure out to bring his intellect, humor, and warmth to life. In 2016 I set him up with his first Zoom link. Eight years after I started working for him I had finally found a technology that didn’t compromise the learner experience. As someone who spent several years behind the scenes ensuring his vision for online higher education worked as frictionlessly as possible, I grew to understand how important it was for Dr. Silver to virtually participate in his vision. The lessons I learned working alongside Dr. Silver have carried me to this day in my role at Texas A&M University. With deep gratitude…JW
Dr. Jocelyn Widmer, Assistant Provost for Academic Innovation, Texas A&M University 
Dr. Jocelyn Widmer and Chris Silver, Bosporus Strait, 2010
Dr. Silver was one of the main reasons I chose University of Florida for my master’s in planning. Because of him, I was able to hone my international sustainability planning perspectives through field work in Jakarta, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. He is one of the most engaging, gregarious, and knowledgeable professors I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. Now I teach one of his courses, URP 3001: Cities of the World, which so many students attribute to their initial dive into urban planning. I feel lucky – and grateful – to have been able to study under, and now have worked alongside, Dr. Silver.
Kyle Dost, AICP, alumnus and staff 
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