ASU graduate planning program ranks among best in nation

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning's Master of Urban and Environmental Planning program gains in national recognition.

July 7, 2017

Arizona State University’s Master of Urban and Environmental Planning program, in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is gaining in national recognition.

Planetizen — an online network and news outlet for the planning, design, and development community — has released its annual ranking for graduate urban planning programs across the United States. The Master of Urban and Environmental Planning program made the list as the No. 22 planning program in the country. Download Full Image

To establish the ranking, Planetizen considers a variety of aspects including student enrollment, student-to-faculty ratio, diversity of faculty and students, citations by faculty, student employment rates, as well as the opinions of planning educators. In total, 96 programs were considered this year with the top 25 earning a ranking on their annual list.

The School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning's position at 22 marks a rise of three spots for the program over last year’s ranking. The program ranks as the 6th best in the western region and when accounting for student enrollment in the program, the master's program jumps to the 3rd best small program in the nation. It is also the only program in Arizona to make the list.

The forward momentum marks an exciting time for the school and the Master of Urban and Environmental Planning (MUEP) program.

“We are just getting started with tuning the MUEP program to ensure our students land great jobs and have the skills to meet industry and community needs,” said Trisalyn Nelson, director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “The MUEP program has a new leadership structure with more support for students interested in gaining practical skills and connecting with future employers.”

Leading the program is Deirdre Pfeiffer. Under her direction, the program has placed an emphasis on meeting student needs, including the creation of specialized courses to help students develop the nuanced abilities they will need in their careers. "We are increasingly providing skills-based education to prepare students to hit the ground running with their careers after graduation," Pfeiffer said. "We have a growing transportation cluster, which is engaging students in lots of exciting applied projects and we are involved in community-engaged planning work in Arizona's tribal communities."

The school also hosted a workshop based on the challenges of planning for airports in urban areas. The workshop exposed students to planning theory, case law, methods, and case studies, along with practitioner techniques and tools to help them tackle this real-world problem.

The program is also currently in a state of growth. Sara Meerow will be joining the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning this fall. An expert on resilience and green infrastructure, Meerow will boost our expanding cadre of planning experts with innovative perspectives that will make major impacts on our communities.

“Our faculty are engaging in research and practice on how to make cities happy, healthy, and resilient,” Nelson said.

Elevating the transdisciplinary nature of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, the master's program is beginning to work closely alongside the school’s transformative research centers — the Urban Climate Research Center and the Spatial Analysis Research Center. This aspect of the program was highlighted as a program strength in the Planetizen report: “The MUEP program is enriched by the interdisciplinary participation of faculty from other academic units of the university, such as the School of Sustainability and the School of Public Affairs, the relationships with leading planning practitioners in the region, state and beyond.”

To learn more about the Master of Urban and Environmental Planning program program, visit:

Manager, Marketing and Communication, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


Underiner named associate dean of graduate academic affairs at ASU Graduate College

July 7, 2017

Tamara Underiner, a scholar of theater and performance studies and associate dean for research for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, has been named associate dean of academic affairs in the Graduate College at Arizona State University.

In this position, Underiner will serve as the main point of contact for graduate academic integrity, program quality, and oversight of the University Graduate Council.  Tamara Underiner Tamara Underiner Download Full Image

“I wanted to recruit a faculty member who’d bring an interdisciplinary and innovative research perspective in this position at the interface of faculty and graduate student affairs,” said Alfredo Artiles, dean of the Graduate College. “Dr. Underiner has had extensive experience fostering interdisciplinary research collaborations, which will be central as she works to enhance and expand the portfolio of innovative interdisciplinary graduate academic programs offered at ASU.”

Underiner has been at ASU since 2001. In 2004, she was promoted to associate professor and assumed responsibilities as director of Graduate Studies at Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA). She ushered in and directed the first doctoral concentration in Theatre in the United States — Theatre and Performance of the Americas.

“The students in Theatre and Performance of the Americas have taught me a great deal about the realities of the world awaiting our graduates, both in and outside of academia. I see a key part of my work as graduate mentor and program builder to nurture the “philosopher” in the PhD,” Underiner said. “I would like to be a part of a concerted effort to cultivate a mindset of inclusion and interdisciplinarity, which have always been the cornerstones of my values and vision. I look forward to making the ‘New American Graduate School’ a reality at ASU.”

In her previous role at the Herberger Institute, Underiner was the liaison between Herberger faculty and ASU's Office for Knowledge Enterprise Development, to identify funding opportunities and develop grant proposals. She served on the Research Committee of the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities and was an active member of the University Graduate Council from 2011–2013.

She earned a bachelor's in communication arts from the University of Dayton in 1980, a master's in theater from Arizona State University in 1993, and a doctorate in drama from the University of Washington in 1997. In 2004, she was named a faculty exemplar by ASU President Michael Crow.

Additionally, Underiner is a founding member of the research team CENAS (Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences), which focuses on culturally informed, participatory theatre making for health promotion and education with communities of color. She currently convenes the Creative Health Collaborations team as part of the 2017-18 Team Leadership Academy at ASU.

Underiner is the author of “Contemporary Theatre in Mayan Mexico: Death-Defying Acts” (University of Texas Press, 2004), and has published essays in Theatre Journal, Signs, Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, TDR, and critical anthologies from academic presses in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. She is active in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Latin American Studies Association and the American Society for Theatre Research. She also serves on the board of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, based in New York City.

Underiner assumed her new duties on Monday, July 3.