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Office of the Provost, Division of Academic Affairs, University of Maryland


Dr. Sonia Hirt Appointed Dean School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation


I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sonia Hirt as Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, effective October 1, 2016. 

Dr. Hirt is currently Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Previously, she served as Director (2009-2012) and then Chair (2012-2013) of Urban Affairs and Planning in the School of Public and International Affairs. She has also held academic appointments at the University of Michigan, the University of Toledo, and Harvard University.

Dr. Hirt earned her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in urban and regional planning from the Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received a Diploma in Architecture (B.A.) from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Professor Hirt's research explores three main themes: comparative urban form with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe, comparative urban planning and land-use regulation with a focus on Europe and the United States, and urban planning and design theory and history. Describing her approach, she says, "I am committed to pursuing research that crosses the borders of architecture, urban planning, urban design, the humanities and the social sciences."

An established scholar with an excellent international reputation, Dr. Hirt is the author/editor of 70 publications, including several research monographs and compilations and two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. She has received numerous awards for her publications. Her 2012 book, Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Post-socialist City, received the Honorable Mention for the annual Book Prize in Political and Social Studies sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Her 2015 book,Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation, received the Honorable Mention for the biennial Best Book Award of the Urban Affairs Association. It was named one of the Ten Best Books in urban planning, design and development of 2015 by Planetizen and was included in the list of Outstanding Academic Titles of 2015 by Choice Magazine. Hirt's research has been funded by highly competitive post-doctoral fellowships such as those from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Association of University Women.

Dr. Hirt is the Co-editor of the Journal of Planning History and serves on the editorial boards of four other journals: Current Research on Cities, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Planning Practice & Research, and Urban Design International.

President Loh and I want to take this opportunity not only to say how enthusiastic we are about the future of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation under Dr. Hirt's leadership, but also to thank outgoing Dean David Cronrath for his outstanding service to the School and the University over the last five years. Dr. Cronrath will continue as Dean until Dr. Hirt assumes the post in October. Thanks also to the search committee, chaired by Dean Alex Triantis, and to our friends at Korn Ferry for the excellent job done conducting this search

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Hirt to her new role as Dean and to our Terp family.

Mary Ann Rankin
Senior Vice President and Provost