Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Two Students Receive Jim Harris Memorial Scholarship Award

The Jim Harris Memorial Scholarship Award, established in 2002, is named for the founding chair of the School of Urban and Regional Planning. It is awarded each year to a student who has made an outstanding contribution through community service. This year there were two deserving recipients, Todd Bagby and Emily Seiple.

Since starting in Urban and Regional Planning, Todd has generally said “yes” to opportunities to serve both the school and Iowa communities. On behalf of the school, he has taken up campus leadership positions, gathered information on and promoted opportunities for our students, and fostered a dynamic learning environment by spurring discussion and providing comic relief when appropriate. In the spring semester 2017 alone, he represented the school as a member of the Campus Planning Committee, Sustainability Charter Committee, Graduate Council and Graduate Student Senate. All of these committees have a selection process, include a number of faculty and deans, and include only a few spots for students from the entire campus.

In addition, Todd was happy to find ample opportunities to serve Eastern Iowa communities. He has served the following communities in some planning-related capacity: the towns of Swisher, Delmar, Bloomfield and West Branch; Des Moines, Henry, Louisa and Washington counties; and via his capstone project, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson and Jones counties, plus the town of DeWitt.

Emily’s background includes years of involvement with immigrant and refugee communities in Iowa City which drove her first to housing advocacy, then the planning field. During her time in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, her focus on community work has centered on housing policy, which is also reflected in her conference attendance and other professional development pursuits.

Emily participated in the 2016-2017 Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement, a prestigious interdisciplinary program, allowing her to explore how institutions (whether academic or municipal) can build effective partnerships with community members and organizations. Previous experience working with the Iowa Youth Writing Project to establish separate partnerships with the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center, the International Writing Program, and English Language Learners at West High, meant she brought many years of experience working in creative and collaborative community settings to the Institute.

Emily has been an active commissioner on the Housing and Community Development Commission, an advisory council to the Iowa City Council, since September 2015. She extended her professional development by attending a number of conferences as well, including recently participated in a poster presented at the National APA Conference in New York. She traveled to both the 2015 and 2016 American Planning Association Upper Midwest Conferences (in Madison, WI and St. Cloud, MN); the 2016 National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference in Washington, DC; the Iowa Finance Authority’s Housing Iowa Conference in Des Moines, IA; the Rural Creative Place-Making National Summit in Iowa City, IA; and a Small Developer Workshop hosted by Incremental Development Group in Cedar Rapids, IA.

On behalf of the School of Urban and Regional Planning, we are very proud to recognize both Todd and Emily with the 2017 Jim Harris Memorial Scholarship Award for community service. The awards were presented to them at graduation on May 12th by Professor and Director, Chuck Connerly.