About the Center
The Center grew from two initiatives.
In the late 1990s, it became apparent that, much like its surrounding region, the University of California Riverside campus was destined for astonishing growth. The student population would triple in size by 2015.
Under Executive Vice Chancellor David Warren, the campus set out to create Vision 2010, a plan for raising the campus' level of excellence while accommodating the growth.
One of the key initiatives under the Vision 2010 plan was to unite the school more closely with the communities that surround and nurture the campus. The model was the College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research and Technology, known as CE-CERT. CE-CERT focused on controlling air pollution - a research mission that was both international in its relevance and a particular problem of UCR's region.
Ali Sahabi Gift
The idea of creating more international research initiatives that were responsive to regional needs found its second catalyst in Ali Sahabi, chairman of SE Corporation.
Sahabi was developing Dos Lagos, a residential/commercial project along Interstate 15 south of Corona and including a hotel and golf course.
While earning his Master's degree in real estate development at the University of Southern California, Sahabi found a mentor in Edward J. Blakely, then Dean and Lusk Professor of Planning and Development at USC's School of Urban Planning and Development.
When Sahabi formulated the idea of endowing a program to reflect his ideals of development, he wanted to name it after his mentor. Sahabi broached the idea of a gift to UCR to found such a program.
The planning process began in mid-2002. Two breakfast events were held to draw out community ideas on what issues the Center should focus on. An academic planning conference was held in February 2003 to present information on suburban trends and to gain the academic perspective on what the Center should be doing.
In 2003, Sahabi formally pledged a gift to UCR to found what was named the Edward J. Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development. Payments totaling $900,000 on this pledge provided partial funding for the Center.
Patricia O'Brien, Dean of UCR's College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, tapped Gary Dymski, an economics professor and associate dean, to oversee the Center. Dymski brought in Andy McCue, a former journalist, to run the Center on a day-to-day basis.
When Dymski left UCR to take up leadership of the University of California's new Sacramento Center, the University chose James Lents to be the Center's Director.
In early 2006, David H. Warren was named Director, succeeding Lents, who retired. Dr. Warren had served for nine years as the university's Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Warren brought Dr. Juliann Allison on board to serve as Associate Director with an emphasis on research programs.
In October 2006, Joseph Norbeck was appointed Director, succeeding Warren. Dr. Norbeck was the Yeager Families Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Environmental Research Institute at UCR.
Dr. Norbeck has been at UCR since 1992 and was the founding director of CE-CERT. He played a key role in the hiring of three new faculty positions with direct affiliation to the Center. During his tenure, new Center research projects also were funded.
He relinquished the Director post at the end of 2007 because of increasing responsibilities associated with his research, added teaching responsibilities and his continuing duties as Director of ERI.
Succeeding him as interim Director was Dr. David Swanson, Professor of Sociology at UCR. A nationally known demographer, Dr. Swanson previously was at the University of Mississippi, where he was Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department and Director of the Center for Population Studies. Under his leadership, the Center further strengthened its faculty ties and research projects.
Dr. Anil Deolalikar, then Professor of Economics and Associate Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, took over Director duties from Dr. Swanson in July, 2009.
In addition to his other duties at UCR, Dr. Deolalikar was Director of the Public Policy Initiative that launched plans for establishing a School of Public Policy at UCR. The proposed professional school was approved by the UC Board of Regents in September 2008. Dr. Deolalikar was named Founding Dean of the School of Public Policy in February, 2013. The School of Public Policy will conduct research and train future policy-makers in a range of social-policy issues, including population growth, environmental policy and immigration.
In January 2013, Dr. Ronald O. Loveridge was named Center Director, succeeding Dr. Deolalikar. In addition to his role as an Associate Professor at UCR since 1965, Dr. Loveridge served an active leadership role in local, regional, state and national government positions for more than 30 years. He served on the Riverside City Council for 33 years, as a City Councilman from 1979 to 1994, and as its Mayor from 1994 to December 2012.
Dr. Loveridge plans on focusing his attention on research related to growth of the suburbs, public policy, urban planning, transportation, air quality and the intersection of cities and natural lands.
Dr. Loveridge was President of the League of California Cities in 2003/04, and served on the boards of the California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Southern California Association of Governments, Western Riverside Council of Governments and the March Joint Powers Authority.
In 2010, he served as President of the National League of Cities, a Washington, D.C.-based organization. He has been a member since 2004. He served on the National League’s Executive Committee as its immediate Past President in 2011. He also was recently inducted into the National Academy of Public Administration, a national think tank.
In September 2012, he was appointed by the Ontario City Council to serve on the five-member Ontario International Airport Authority, which would oversee operation of the L.A./Ontario International Airport if the authority gains control of the airport from Los Angeles World Airports, its current owner/operator.
Dr. Loveridge earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Stanford University.
The Center's major outreach activities
In 2005, the Center held its first annual Conference on the Suburbs at the Mission Inn in Riverside. More than 300 attendees heard speakers from Peter Calthorpe to Dowell Myers discuss the conference theme, "Smart Growth on the Edge" - applying the urban-based principles called Smart Growth to the growing communities on the fringes of metropolitan areas.
The 2006 conference was titled, "The New Collaborative Region: Suburbs and Cities Working on the Future." The audience at the San Bernardino Radisson heard speakers from around the country, the state and the region discuss their efforts to create and maintain regional planning efforts.
The conference theme in 2007, "Revitalizing the Suburbs," once again brought in experts from around the country to discuss what many suburbs are doing to revitalize their communities and transform them into urban villages.
In 2008, the conference focused on the problems and solutions to Southern California's air pollution under the theme, "Clearing the Air: Issues and Strategies for Future Progress."
Another major outreach program for the Center -The Randall Lewis Seminar Series- began in 2005 and are sponsored by Randall Lewis of the Lewis Group of Companies.
The seminars are usually held on the third Thursday of each month except July, August and December.
Seminar topics focus on issues of regional significance or policy making, such as regional air quality, inclusionary zoning, how to finance transportation infrastructure, how a city plans for massive new developments, designing healthier communities, the need for child care and the Inland region's emerging white-collar workforce.
From 2008-2010, the Center and UCR Extension created a Public Policy Lecture Series that explored public policy alternatives and sustainability issues from the minds of some of the most experienced and renowned practitioners in Southern California.
The series consisted of three-hour evening lectures held once a week over a six-week period. Speakers focused on the institutional framework and looming public policy issues of the Inland southern California region.