Former Executive Director
Arthur C. (Christian “Chris”) Nelson is presently (since July 2014) Professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona. Previously, he served as Presidential Professor of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, Adjunct Professor of Finance in the David Eccles School of Business, and Co-Director of the Master of Real Estate Development program. He was also Executive Director Emeritus of the Metropolitan Research Center in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah.
Between 2002 and 2008, Dr. Nelson was founding Director of the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria Center where he was also Co-Director (with Robert E. Lang) of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, and founder of the Planning Academy at Virginia Tech. From 1987 to 2002, he was Professor of City and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture and Professor of Public Policy in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and between 2000 and 2002 he was Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgia State University. With Julian Conrad Juergensmeyer he co-founded the nation’s only bi-university dual master of planning (Georgia Tech) and juris doctor (Georgia State) degree program. Dr. Nelson’s academic career started as visiting Assistant Professor of Regional and Community Planning at Kansas State University (1984-85) and then as Assistant but soon Associate Professor of Urban and Public Affairs (now Planning and Urban Studies) at the University of New Orleans (1986-87) where he was also Adjunct Professor ofSocial Work at Southern University New Orleans, a historically Black university.
Dr. Nelson received his Bachelor of Science degree in political science with certificates in Urban Studies and Social Service at Portland State University in 1972. As a consultant in planning and fiscal analysis along the West Coast based in Portland, Oregon for a dozen years (1972-1984), he returned to Portland State where he received the Master of Urban Studies degree (1976) and later the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Urban Studies specializing in regional science and regional planning in 1984.
Dr. Nelson has received numerous distinctions over his academic career. He is a member of College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners(AICP), was commissioned Honorary Lieutenant Colonial by the Georgia Governor, received research, teaching and scholarship awards, and was advisor to students winning the AICP national student project of the year award. He has also served as editor of Housing Policy Debate, associate editor of the Journal of Urban Affairs, and Planners’ Notebook editor and associate editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association. He serves in other editorial capacities for several journals.
Dr. Nelson entered academia after working for a dozen years in professional planning and public administration capacities in Oregon, Washington and California. This includes being a party in significant court cases including one in Oregon where a citizen-driven amendment to a city charter discriminating against farm labor housing was overturned.