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UO President Michael Schill (center) waiting patiently while I introduced him to the class

As most of you know, I’m currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon at the Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management. As such, my exposure to service is relatively limited, since the tenure-track faculty are usually the ones sitting on university-wide committees. So the likelihood of my encountering the Provost or President are slim, although I have met our Dean, Brook Muller, on several occasions.

The University recently appointed a new President, Dr. Michael Schill, who is an expert on housing policy, real estate, and legal issues such as Fair Share regulations. Dr. Schill holds a tenured position at the School of Law, and previously served as dean and professor at the University of Chicago School of Law and dean of the UCLA School of Law. He has written three books and over 40 articles and book chapters on issues as diverse as housing market deregulation and the valuation of condominium and co-op units. He is the founder of the Furman Centre for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, one of the nation’s top research centres on housing policy. He became President of the University of Oregon on July 1, 2015.

Today I was honoured to have President Schill give a guest lecture in my Seminar on Housing Policy (photo above). He spoke at length on the topic of US housing subsidies and showed the differences between tax expenditures and direct expenditures on affordable housing over time. He contrasted the benefits of housing vouchers, low-income housing tax credits, and public housing in terms of their outcomes on affordability, housing quality, racial/ethnic segregation, and neighbourhood redevelopment. He answered a few student and faculty questions, and stayed afterwards to chat informally.

Students in my housing policy class are particularly interested in issues of affordability, as they are working on a project with the City of Redmond on their Affordable Housing Plan. As I detailed in a previous post, students will be working on a policy analysis, profiling innovative tools/strategies, and interviewing local planners and developers on implementation approaches to Redmond’s persistent affordability problems. Our project is operating through the Sustainable City Year Program, which partners with a different municipality each year and develops course work across different faculties and departments to help the municipality complete its designated projects. The fact that students have had the opportunity to work with a real client on a real project, and also have exposure to a top researcher like President Schill, is a testament to the friendly, collaborative atmosphere at the University of Oregon. PPPM Director Rich Margerum discussed our department and course with President Schill in December, and he immediately expressed an interest in giving a guest lecture.

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