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"DUSPx: Connections" brings together DUSP alumni/ae and students

New York City event invites DUSP alumni and alumnae to reconnect and share their work.

On Sunday, May 7, nearly 100 DUSP alumni and alumnae gathered at Affirmation Arts in New York City to reconnect and to share their work and ideas. Coinciding with the APA national planning conference, “DUSPx: Connections was attended by DUSP graduates from across the country and from the New York City area, together with current and prospective DUSP students.

This was the fourth in the “DUSPx” series, created by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning to promote the exchange of ideas and to foster connections among DUSP alumni/ae and with current DUSP faculty and students. Each of these exceptionally well attended events speaks to the desire of alumni/ae to stay connected to DUSP and to each other.

Emceed by current DUSP PhD students Lilian Bui and Jonathan Feng Sun, the evening began with a welcome from Department Head Eran Ben-Joseph, who shared department news including the appointment of new faculty, the complete renovation of Building 9 and an increase in faculty research projects.

The evening’s format of “lightning talks” featured brief talks by alumni/ae on their work and other relevant topics.  Thirteen alumni/ae* spoke about work ranging from coastal resiliency projects in New York to the design and implementation of economic plans in Cleveland, to insights about running a planning department in Somerville. The talks clearly demonstrated the breath and depth of the impact of DUSP alumni/ae in a variety of contexts.

Prof. Ben-Joseph called the evening “an amazing display of the wide range and extraordinary impact of DUSP alum work in shaping the world of planning, across the country.”

The creation of DUSPx was rooted in the Department’s intent, not only to encourage connections back to MIT, but also to create and strengthen connections among alumni/ae. This grows out of the perspective that there should be no ‘university wall’ between when one is a student and when one graduates. "We are trying to foster a single professional community to the mutual benefit of students and alum—a ‘DUSP without Borders.’ DUSPx is one way that we do this,” said Mary Jane Daly MCP ‘83, DUSP Professional Development Director and event organizer. Other ways that the Department is engaged in promoting meaningful interaction among alum and among alum and students, include internships, on-campus alum panels and student visits to alumni/ae offices.

Ms. Daly closed the event by thanking alums for their generosity with students and fellow alums – as mentors, employers and advisors – and encouraging them, in the spirit of the evening, to stay connected with the department and each other through the MIT Alumni Association and the DUSP LinkedIN group.

*Presenter list: Polina Bakhteiarov SB ’10, MCP ’11; Sharon Greenberger MCP ’93; Frank Hebbert MCP ’08, Ingrid Heilke MCP ’10; Rebecca Karp MCP ’11; Rachel Loeb MCP ’02; Deborah Morris MCP ’09; George Proakis, MCP ’02; James Rojas MCP ’91, SM ’91; Sagree Sharma MCP ’07; Alexandra Sutherland-Brown MCP ’15; Ann-Ariel Vecchio MCP ’12; Adrian Walter-Ginzburg PhD ’83; and Louise Yeung MCP ’13.

Image Credits
1. DUSP PhD students Lily Bui and Jonathan Feng Sun. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
2. L-R: Akanksha Raina MCP ’14, MSRED ’14; Louise Yeung MCP '13; DUSP Department Head Eran Ben-Joseph; Chris Rhie MCP ’14, MSRED ’14; and prospective students Zack Avre and Annemarie Gray. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
3. Ingrid Heilke MCP '10 presents to the group. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
4. L-R: Talia Kaufmann MCP ’14; Akanksha Raina MCP ’14, MSRED ’14; Ann-Ariel Vecchio MCP '12; Karen Johnson MCP ’14; and Dara Yaskil MCP ’14. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
5. Adrian Walter-Ginzburg PhD '83 addresses the group. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
6. L-R: William Chin ’11; Dhairya Dand MAS ’14; Tao W. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
7. Frank Hebbert, MCP '08, photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
8. Audience view, photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
9. Eran Ben-Joseph, photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
10. James Rojas MCP ’91, MArch ’91; Gary Hack PhD ’76; Priyanka Shah MCP ’08, MArch ’08; and Connie Chung MCP ’09. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.
11. Photo Shannon Sturgis, 2017.