Stories of Giving

The success of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Illinois is a direct result of the generosity of our friends and alumni. This support allows the department to strengthen and enhance the student experience in a variety of ways. Here are a few ways our alumni are giving back.

Photo of Doug and Laura in front of an old brick structure

Funding Opportunities for Professional Development

Doug Houston fondly remembers the makeshift urban planning studio that he frequented as a University of Illinois student in the late 1960s. It was fashioned out of a fallout shelter in the basement of Bevier Hall. Among the drafting tables, t-squares, and chalkboards, he recalls civil defense barrels stocked with Spam and other canned goods. It’s fitting that when Doug and his wife Laura, also an Illinois alum, recently worked with University of Illinois Advancement to establish a new fund, they decided to call it the Basement Studio Fund for Professional Development. Read the full story here.

Photo of Doug and Laura in front of an old brick structure
Drew and Jen Awsumb along with their two young kids at Shawnee National Forest

Opening Doors for Underrepresented and First-Generation College Students

Drew Awsumb’s passion for helping others, one that he shares with his wife Jennifer, extends beyond his current work as Deputy Director of Community Development for the City of Highland Park. Drew and Jen are fully aware of the advantages their education provided them in their careers. They wanted to help others get that same advantage, so they worked with University of Illinois Advancement to establish the Illinois Planning Equity and Inclusion Scholarship Fund. This fund supports scholarships for students that contribute to the diversity of the student body as well as first-generation college students. Drew and Jen believe that a person’s career aspirations should not be stymied by race or socioeconomic status, and so they took action to help break down these barriers. Read the full story here.

Drew and Jen Awsumb along with their two young kids at Shawnee National Forest
Photo of Zishen Ye

Bridging the Gap Between Real-World Practice and Academic Studies

Illinois Planning alumnus Zishen Ye (BAUSP ’19) knows first-hand how crucial learning experiences outside of the classroom are. “For my capstone project, we worked on a redevelopment plan for downtown Viola. That exposure to rural Midwest towns, seeing how they’ve changed in the past several decades, and developing plans that may give towns like Viola the opportunity to bounce back was a very valuable experience,” Ye shared. Awarded Outstanding Student Project for his capstone experience in 2019, Ye understands the value of experiential learning and wants to make sure future Planning students at Illinois are provided the same opportunities he was. Read the full story here.

Photo of Zishen Ye

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Are you interested in learning more about how you can support the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Illinois? Whether you want to donate to existing funds or establish your own, the Office of Advancement will work with you to support initiatives that mean the most to you. How will you make an impact? Contact Joshua Hall, associate director of advancement and start making a difference in the lives of Illinois planning students today.

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