Ross to Lead Tech's Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development


Georgia Tech Media Relations
Laura Diamond
Jason Maderer

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Nationally recognized transportation expert Catherine Ross will become the College of Architecture's first endowed faculty member - the Harry West Chair for Quality Growth and Regional Development. In her new role, Ross will direct a center that will examine key issues of land use, community design, transportation and air quality throughout the Atlanta region and beyond.


Thomas Galloway, dean of the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, today announced that nationally recognized transportation expert Catherine Ross will become the college's first endowed faculty member - the Harry West Chair for Quality Growth and Regional Development.

In her new role at Georgia Tech, Ross will direct the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, an educational research arm of the College of Architecture that will examine key issues of land use, community design, transportation and air quality throughout the Atlanta region and beyond.

The center will be housed within Georgia Tech's new, mixed-use facilities at Technology Square, nearing completion in Midtown Atlanta. Ross begins July 1.

"I am most pleased to have Catherine assume the leadership role of the center, and I believe this is an historically important step in expanding Georgia Tech's position in metropolitan-growth scholarship, research and outreach," Dean Galloway said.

"Catherine and the center hold tremendous opportunities for Georgia Tech's City and Regional Planning Program, the College of Architecture, other Institute units and sister universities in Atlanta who will be involved with us as we build this new center together," he said.

Becoming the Harry West Chair for Quality Growth and Regional Development is "a one-to-one fit" for Ross and the new center, she said.

"I'm thrilled to accept this position, especially as the first endowed faculty member of the College of Architecture," Ross said. "Creation of the center is very timely, too, because issues of sustainable growth, transportation and community involvement are critical -- not only in Atlanta, but throughout the region and the nation."

Previously, Ross was the first executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), a state agency created by the Legislature in 1999. Its mission is to help 13 counties out-of-compliance with clean air standards develop new transportation plans and initiatives to help them meet or exceed federal requirements.

"GRTA provided me a wonderful opportunity to learn and address the issues facing our community. It's a valuable asset to the state and the region," Ross said. "I'm extremely proud of the progress we made at GRTA and I have high expectations for its future. Like GRTA, Georgia Tech's Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development will have no peer in the nation in terms of its mission and great focus."

Ross is no stranger to Georgia Tech. She first came to the Institute in 1976 as an assistant professor in the Graduate City Planning Program. She became an associate professor in 1984, then a full professor in 1990. She has held a variety of important leadership positions here, including vice provost for academic affairs, associate vice president for academic affairs, co-director of the Transportation Research and Education Center and director of the College of Architecture's Ph.D. program.

At the national level, Ross previously served as a senior policy adviser to the National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board. Today she is a member of that board. She also is past president of the National Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; a member of the Board of Directors for the ENO Transportation Foundation; and is a national advisory board member for the Women's Transportation Seminar. Locally, she was vice chair of the Atlanta Development Authority in 1998.

"Catherine is extremely well-regarded nationally for her work in examining regional transportation issues," said Cheryl Contant, the director of Georgia Tech's City and Regional Planning Program who led the search for the Harry West Chair.

"But, after more than three years heading GRTA, nobody knows the Atlanta region better than Catherine Ross," Contant said. "This combination of national prominence and local knowledge makes her uniquely suited for the Harry West Chair and the directorship of the center."

Ross' chief duties will be to organize the center's mission and activities, building research and issue teams to address problems and develop solutions. She also is charged with raising funds to sustain the center's activities into the future, Contant said.

However, Ross' biggest challenge is to get the new center up and running quickly.

"There is significant demand for the center's efforts in Atlanta and other, similar metropolitan regions in the United States that presently is unmet," Contant said. "Because of her unique experience and expertise, Dr. Ross should be able to capitalize on her extensive knowledge and local connections to hit the ground running."

Ross said the center will address more than just issues that affect Atlanta and the Southeast. It will serve as a national and international model for advancing regional concerns -- such as community design, improved air and water quality, education, transportation and overall quality of life.

"These are not only issues that are important to us. People all over the world are struggling with the same problems, and we have a great chance of actually addressing some of them here," she said. "The private sector and the public sector both play prominent roles in solving our growth problems.

"This center certainly is a good example of the marriage of the private and public sectors and how they might work together to address the critical issues our communities face today," she said.

Among Ross' teaching and research interests are transportation policy analysis; transportation planning; environmental impact assessments; urban revitalization; spatial analysis; public involvement; and land-use planning.

Ross earned a bachelor's degree from Kent State University in 1971, followed by a master's degree in regional planning from Cornell University in 1973. She earned her doctorate in city and regional planning from Cornell in 1979 and did post-doctorate work at the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to teaching at Georgia Tech and her leadership of GRTA, Ross founded a consulting company that has conducted research for numerous government transportation agencies. She has published extensively in the fields of urban planning, transportation planning and public participation.

The Harry West Chair of Quality Growth and Regional Development was created in 1999 with a generous, $1.5 million endowment from John A. Williams, the founder of Post Properties Inc. The chair is the first endowed faculty position within Georgia Tech's College of Architecture and it is housed in the City and Regional Planning Program.

It is named in honor of Harry West, who served 26 years as director of the Atlanta Regional Commission. During his tenure there, West became known as a tireless champion of constituency-based planning, the process of bringing together diverse stakeholders in a community to forge a single vision for growth and change.

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  • Created By: Matthew Nagel
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jun 1, 2003 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:02pm