Sonia Hirt, a seasoned administrator and one of the world’s foremost scholars of land use and planning, has been named dean of the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design.
Hirt is currently professor and dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park, and her appointment at UGA is effective July 1.
“Dr. Hirt brings an exemplary record of leadership to the University of Georgia,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “She epitomizes the kind of innovative teaching and engaged scholarship that make the College of Environment and Design an invaluable asset to our state and a national leader in the fields of landscape architecture, environmental planning and design, and historic preservation.”
As dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, Hirt has worked to promote the development of new majors and dual graduate degrees, expand global-classroom learning opportunities for students and foster new research and outreach venues. She previously served as professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Her additional administrative appointments also include serving as chair of the two-campus program of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech and, earlier, director of the Blacksburg program.
“With her distinguished record of scholarship and broad experience in higher education administration, Dr. Hirt is perfectly positioned to lead our College of Environment and Design into the future,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to welcoming her to campus in July.”
Hirt is the author of more than 70 scholarly publications, including four books. Her most recent book, “Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation,” has received several honors, including the John Friedmann Book Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Her research has been supported by many competitive grants and fellowships from agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, the American Council for Learned Societies and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Hirt has delivered invited lectures at universities across North America and Europe and was a visiting associate professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in the Department of Urban Planning and Design. In addition, she is the co-editor of the Journal of Planning History and served on the editorial boards of four additional journals. Her teaching awards include the Virginia Tech Outstanding Dissertation Advisor Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences and its University Certificate of Teaching Excellence.
Hirt holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“I am very excited to join the distinguished faculty and leadership team of the University of Georgia,” Hirt said. “This is an incredible honor and privilege, and I look forward to building up the outstanding capacity of the College of Environment and Design to lead in solving the complex social and environmental problems of today.”