Our History

Out of a commitment to improve the human condition was laid a solid foundation of design and planning education and service at Morgan State University. In its infancy, the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) catered to the university community and its host setting through educational advancements, urban vision, and service-learning and research geared toward training professionals to shape the built environment. That commitment to effect the human condition continues today.

The programs at SA+P are shaped with regard for the university's particular characteristics-that of being an historically black university, serving a state-mandated urban mission in a large central city, and having a majority population of African American disadvantaged people in an older eastern seaboard metropolitan area. Morgan's design and planning programs deal with the intellectual highs of urban idealism as well as the day-to-day operational lows of life in the city's streets. The result is a fairly traditional curriculum, which has some unique points of emphasis drawn from the Morgan State experience in Maryland and Baltimore.

SA+P is at an important juncture in its history: building on a foundation of education and service established more than 25 years ago, it now embarks on the potential transformation of its administrative structure.

The seeds of the design and planning programs at Morgan were sowed in 1956 with the arrival of a young African American faculty member, Homer E. Favor. His dissertation was on property value and race-a topic that aroused his interest in poor urban communities. His arrival at Morgan began a period of intense involvement in community planning activities in Baltimore neighborhoods. His outreach to the community led to the establishment of the Urban Studies Institute in 1963. This unit was funded through the general college appropriations. With the support of then University President, the late Martin D. Jenkins tied to Dr. Favor's untiring commitment to urban problems, a new entity-the Center for Urban Affairs-was developed at Morgan in 1970. President Jenkins' personal connections at the Ford Foundation helped secure grant support for a four-year period. When the grant expired, the state's increasing share of the funding eventually supported all programs. 

These early activities heralded education and service focused toward the built environment at Morgan. The Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Policy Analysis degree program was initiated in 1970, with the establishment of an undergraduate program in Urban Studies and Community Service following the next year. The graduate program's reputation spread rapidly. Subsequently, it became the first planning program at an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to receive degree recognition-the forerunner of the accreditation process-from the American Institute of Planners in 1974.

Significant institutional changes occurred in 1975. First, the Center for Urban Affairs became the School of Urban Affairs and Human Development, adding several other degree programs to the university's offerings. Second, Morgan was granted university status along with a new mandate: the responsibility for addressing and resolving urban problems. One interpretation of the mandate resulted in the creation of five new urban oriented programs including the Department of Built Environment Studies (BES). The principal mission of BES was to assist MSU in meeting its mandate by offering graduate level, first professional degrees, and advanced study opportunities. The specific goals of the department were to:

- Train professionals with a high level of technical competence and with an understanding of the complex cultural context from which planning and design must emerge;

- Prepare professionals to be able to fully participate in dynamic contemporary planning and design activities, and to be able to plan, anticipate, and adapt to change; and

- Provide an opportunity for minorities and women to gain entry into the planning and design professions.

The creation of BES led to two developments: (1) the change from the Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Policy Analysis degree to the Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) and (2) the addition of advanced and first professional graduate degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and an interdisciplinary degree in Urban Design. This effort was led by Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA, who was instrumental in establishing these graduate programs. The unit became operational in 1979.

The graduate programs continued to evolve, building in reputation and size. In 1986, the planning program was the first of the BES unit to receive accreditation. This recognition by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) was also the first time a planning program at an HBCU was accredited. The administrative home of the planning program changed in 1981 when the School of Urban Studies (formerly the School of Urban Affairs and Human Development) was merged with the School of Education to form the School of Education and Urban Studies. Another key event during this era was the elimination of the urban studies program and the designation of Morgan as Maryland's public urban university. The latter came with a new mission and focus toward serving challenged urban areas in Baltimore.

The redesignation of the BES as the Institute of Architecture and Planning in 1991 marked a significant milestone. The Institute was then a separate administrative unit that housed the architecture, planning, and landscape architecture programs. Anthony N. Johns, Jr., FAIA, was its first director. He worked hard to obtain accreditations for the graduate programs, a distinction which continues today. When Professor Johns retired in 1997, he had secured the unique position for Morgan: being the only HBCU in the nation to have accredited programs in architecture, city and regional planning, and landscape architecture.

The foundation for design and planning education at Morgan was firmly in place when Melvin L. Mitchell, FAIA, became the Institute's Director in 1997. He orchestrated the relocation of the Institute from the Jenkins Building to its present location within the Montebello Complex. Most significant during his tenure was the reaccreditation of the three graduate programs and the establishment of an undergraduate program-Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design.

The undergraduate program experienced phenomenal growth from its inception in 2001. When Richard E. Lloyd, Ph.D. assumed the leadership of the Institute in 2002, the Institute had approximately 150 students with 14 faculty members. He played a significant role in promoting interdisciplinary teaching and was instrumental in giving the undergraduate program a concrete shape with four distinct interests in architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, and construction management.

In Fall 2008, the Institute of Architecture and Planning was officially designated the School of Architecture and Planning by the University's Board of Regents. Associate Professor Mahendra Parekh, AIA assumed the responsibilities of the Institute's Director on a temporary basis, while the University commenced its Dean's search for the new School.

As a result of the Dean's search, Mary Anne Alabanza Akers, Ph.D. was hired to be the School's first Dean. During her tenure, the school has increased enrollment to approximately 400 students and 30 full-time faculty and staff. Dr. Akers has promoted faculty and student research, service learning, and transdisciplinary studies.

SA+P programs provide high-quality, profession-oriented educational preparation in design and planning to undergraduate non-design and design-related degree holders who prefer to work in the profession during the day while pursuing their academic studies on an afternoon, evening, and weekend basis. It was designed to prepare students for professional careers in planning, design, or management of the built environment. The undergraduate program is primarily a day program and is intended as a feeder into the three graduate programs. The Institute provides an administrative umbrella for academic programs that share several common objectives and methods. Its faculty and students collaborate in many ways. Such collaborations include joint field projects, class assignments, and research interests. There is a wide range of diversity in the expertise and interests of the institute's faculty; students can explore that diversity.

Milestones:

1963 The Urban Studies Institute was established following the work of Homer E. Favor, Ph.D.

1970 The Center for Urban Affairs is funded by the Ford Foundation

The Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Policy degree program is initiated

1974 Planning program is first in Maryland and first at an HBCU to receive degree recognition-the forerunner of the accreditation process

1975 The Center for Urban Affairs becomes the School of Urban Affairs and Human Development

1975 Morgan State College is granted University status

The Built Environment Studies Program (BES) is established within the School of Urban Affairs and Human Development

1979 The Department of Built Environment Studies begins following approval of the proposal submitted by a team led by Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA

Graduate degrees are established in Architecture, City and Regional Planning (formerly MA Urban Planning and Policy Analysis), and Landscape Architecture as well as in Urban Design

1981 The School of Urban Studies (formerly School of Urban Affairs and Human Development) merges with the School of Education to become the School of Education and Urban Studies

1986  The Master of City and Regional Planning program receives accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board, the first such program at an HBCU to receive this recognition

1988  Morgan State College is designated as Maryland's Urban Public University

1991 BES becomes a separate administrative entity known as the Institute of Architecture and Planning

1991 Anthony N. Johns, Jr., FAIA becomes the first Institute's Director

1997 SA+P is the only HBCU in the nation to have accredited programs in Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture

1997 Melvin L. Mitchell, FAIA becomes the second Institute's Director

1999 The Institute moves from the Jenkins Building to its new space in the Montebello Complex

2001 The Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design degree program is established

2001 The three graduate program continue to be fully accredited

2002 Richard E. Lloyd, Ph.D. becomes the SA+P's third Director

2003 The Institute's student population exceeds 200 persons

2005 President Earl Richardson announces the University's plans to grant School status to the Institute of Architecture and Planning

2008 Mahendra Parekh becomes Acting Director for the Institute

2008 Mary Anne Alabanza Akers, Ph.D., becomes the SA+P's first Dean.

2008 The Institute of Architecture and Planning officially becomes the School of Architecture and Planning 

2010 Construction on the Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies building begins, the new home for the School of Architecture and Planning. 

2010 New Bachelor of Science in Construction Management begins. 

2010 The School's student population reaches close to 400 students.

2012 Move to the New Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies