Urban development to be discussed at UM
By Edwin Smith
University of Mississippi
A respected professional in urban development is the guest speaker for a public forum Friday at the University of Mississippi.
Joel Kotkin will address UM students and the local community in The Pavilion at Ole Miss beginning at 11:30 a.m. The author’s appearance is being co-sponsored by the UM Real Estate Advisory Board, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Business Administration and Meek School of Journalism and New Media.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in 36 years that academics and athletics at the University of Mississippi have joined together to sponsor an event such as this,” said Blake Tartt III, a UM marketing alumnus and owner of New Regional Planning, a real estate and strategy firm in Houston, Texas.
“Joel Kotkin is an internationally recognized author and professional in the global, economic, political and social trends of urban development. He studies patterns, why people are moving and where they are moving.”
Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, California, and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. He is executive editor of the widely-read website http://www.newgeography.com/ and writes the weekly “New Geographer” column for Forbes.com.
One of the ongoing conversations in Oxford has been expansion and economic development with the growing student and local populations. For example, more than 50 percent of Ole Miss students are millenials from out-of-state, Tartt noted. Also, more and more adults 50 and older are moving away from urban areas and into nonurban/small towns, similar to Oxford.
“All the members of the advisory board are passionate about Ole Miss and Oxford,” Tartt said. “We feel it is extremely important to bring professionals like Joel Kotkin to Mississippi. As urban development rapidly continues, it is essential that the Oxford’s infrastructure expand to accommodate its growth. That also helps create much-needed job opportunities in Oxford and the state of Mississippi.”
Representatives of the other sponsors of the event echoed Tartt’s opinions.
“We believe this type of event, that students from throughout the campus may attend, enables students to be exposed to practical ideas that they may never have considered,” said Will Norton, UM journalism dean. “Despite the depth of his knowledge, the topics he addresses are so practical that students need to hear him so that they can be preparing themselves for internships and jobs.”
The Ole Miss real estate program partnered to provide an opportunity for students to engage in discussions and hear from industry leaders to add perspective to the academic information and how it relates to the real world.
“We definitely realize the value of bringing speakers of the quality of Joel Kotkin to further prepare our students as they transition into the global workforce,” said Chip Wade, assistant professor of finance.
“Joel Kotkin is a forward thinker with great insight into topics ranging from the future of class in global cities to the places with the best opportunities for minorities. These are extremely pertinent topics in today’s economic landscape. Moreover, these are challenges that the millennium generation is going to have to address head-on.”
The athletics department has a stake in the continued growth of Oxford, said Stephen Ponder, senior executive associate athletics director.
“It is an exciting time to be at Ole Miss, and I think campus and our community will find the remarks beneficial as our leaders continue to work on plans for campus and Oxford,” he said. “We want to be an integral part of our campus and community beyond athletics.”