This past December, Huxley College’s Urban Planning Program was awarded with a national accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board, placing the program alongside only 15 other universities worldwide.
Western is the third university in the state to have been accredited for the program, along with Eastern Washington University and the University of Washington. The Urban Planning Program was established in the 1960s and is older than Huxley College itself.
“We’re really happy to be the second accredited program in Washington because Washington state has a very progressive planning policy, the growth management Act, and it requires all communities to do planning under that act,” Nicholas Zaferatos said.
Urban planning programs allow students to apply environmental studies to real-life situations by working through transportation, population and other issues.
“It’s a very prestigious designation for Western and for Huxley College.”
Senior Thomas Tague is an Urban Planning and Sustainable Design major.
“There’s a number of jobs in larger cities looking for students who have a degree from an accredited university, so it opens up a lot of other job opportunities for me after school,” Tague said. “It increases my respect for the program knowing I am getting the best education I can for what I want to do.”
“It’s a very prestigious designation for Western and for Huxley College,” Zaferatos said.
Students applying to the program are encouraged to submit a portfolio to show their interest in the program. They can also show their writing, drawing or community service.
Most planning programs are professional masters programs, so Western is unique in that it’s one of the only accredited undergraduate planning programs, Hollenhorst said.
“The purpose of this program is to train students to become professional planners,” Zaferatos said. “It’s a professional degree program and students find employment doing planning work in the private sector, working with consulting firms, but more so in the public sector,” Zaferatos said.
Hollenhorst said students, faculty and the college community were supportive of the initiative to submit a proposal to get the program accredited.
“I was just following the faculty and students in supporting them however I could,” Hollenhorst said. “It was really the vision of some of the faculty saying ‘we need this program to be accredited.’”