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Becki Retzlaff, associate professor and director of the Community Planning Program in the Department of Political Science, received the Kenneth J. Groves Distinguished Leadership Award for a Professional Planner from the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association, or ALAPA, at the fall conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. Students in Sweta Byahut’s fall 2015 sustainable transportation planning class won the Distinguished Leadership Award for a Planning Student Team, and community planning students Will Butler and Phoenix Robinson took home first and second place awards in the student poster competition.

The Kenneth J. Groves Distinguished Leadership Award for a Professional Planner was established in memory of the former Director of Planning and Development in the City of Montgomery. The award honors an individual for his or her significant/sustained contributions to the planning profession through distinguished practice, teaching or writing. Retzlaff was nominated by her peers for the award for her contribution to research and outreach in Alabama. The nomination noted her significant contribution to saving the Community Planning Program in 2015, and spearheading its move to the College of Liberal Arts. Within one year of moving to the College of Liberal Arts, Retzlaff led the program through a major curriculum update, created a new strategic plan, hired two additional tenure-track faculty members and doubled the number of students in the program.

Sweta Byahut’s fall 2015 sustainable transportation planning class received the Distinguished Leadership Award for a Planning Student Team for their class project, “Bicycle Master Plan for the City of Auburn.” In summer 2015, members of the City of Auburn Bike Committee approached Byahut and asked her to create a student project to prepare a new bike plan for the City of Auburn. Byahut agreed that writing the plan would be a good learning experience for her students, and she structured the class around the project. The entire class contributed to the project, and worked with the City of Auburn and the Auburn Bicycle Committee, to make sure that the plan met the needs of the citizens of Auburn. The plan used the most current and cutting edge methodologies for bicycle and pedestrian planning, recognizing the environmental, public health, economic and transportation benefits of increasing bicycle ridership in Auburn.

The ALAPA conference also hosts an annual on-site student poster competition. Second year masters of community planning students Will Butler and Phoenix Robinson won first and second place in the competition. Both students presented posters of their synthesis projects from the master of community planning program, under the direction of Professor Jocelyn Zanzot. Their projects seek to create a new comprehensive plan for the City of Tuskegee.

To learn more about the master of Community Planning Program in the College of Liberal Arts, visit the website.