Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CRP Open House 2016

Sibley Hall was abuzz with activity the weekend of March 18 as dozens of prospective students visited Cornell to learn more about the City and Regional Planning program.

On Thursday evening, current students led small groups of prospective students to their favorite restaurants in Collegetown, including Aladdins Natural Eatery, De Tasty Hot Pot, The Nines for pizza, and Koko Korean. With full bellies and initial introductions under their belts, each dinner group made their way to The Nines for drinks and banter with more prospective and current students.

Bright and early Friday morning, the Open House coordinators greeted prospective students with nametags, informational packets, and an expansive breakfast spread in Milstein Dome. Director of Graduate Studies Stephan Schmidt and Historic Preservation Professor Jeff Chusid kicked off the morning of departmental events with an introduction to Cornell and the Department of City and Regional Planning. Current faculty members took turns introducing themselves, the courses they teach, and their research interests. After a short break, current students Thaddeus Bell (MRP/MPS ‘17), Annie Pease (MRP ‘16), Zeynep Goksel (MRP/MLA ‘17) and Xiaozhong Sun (MRP ‘16) described their experiences inside and outside CRP. Thaddeus and Zeynep encouraged students to get involved in the Design Connect student organization to apply classroom learning to real world planning projects. Annie discussed her research on participatory budgeting during her travels to Indonesia and recommended that students focus course projects on their area of interest in order to produce a robust portfolio of work to support their exit projects and wow potential employers. Sun, who will pursue a PhD in the CRP department upon graduation, spoke about his research interests in informal markets.

Next, alumni panelists Seth Eden (MRP ‘10, DAI), and C.J. Randall (MRP ‘11, Randall + West), Sylvia Xiaomeng Li (MRP ‘14, NYC Department of City Planning), and Isaac Robb (MRP ‘15, Western Reserve Land Conservancy) gave insight into how their experiences at Cornell prepared them for the job search.

"The current student and alumni panels gave a good sense of student life and how Cornell's program prepared the alumni for the job market."

After the panels, prospective students mingled with alumni, current students, and faculty over lunch before moving to Milstein Auditorium for a showing of Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion. Director Matthew Silva answered questions following the film as part of the CRP City and Regional Futures Colloquium Series. From there, prospective students were invited to speak with faculty members one-on-one during their office hours before gathering for a campus walking tour. In between scheduled events, prospective students were strongly encouraged to sit in on CRP courses and weekly student organization meetings.

The two tour groups endured a drizzly rain and arrived at the Big Red Barn to enjoy $1 beer at Tell Grads It’s Friday (TGIF) with other current students. The Barn provided a cozy respite from the weather and gave prospectives time to chat candidly with current students. From there, the entire group walked to the Miller Heller House in Collegetown for a dinner hosted by the various student groups inside the City and Regional Planning department. Sushi, wraps, and other tasty nibblies filled students’ plates as they socialized in the historic space. Each student organization gave a brief introduction to their work and opportunities for involvement, including Planning Students for Equity and Inclusion, Women’s Planning Forum, International Planning Students Organization, Organization of Cornell Planners, Design Connect, and the International City/County Management Association.

"The Big Red Barn and the Student Group Dinner were really great opportunities to have more casual conversations with current students and to really ask questions/get a sense for the program. I found that incredibly helpful. I was very impressed with the sense of camaraderie among the students and their obvious love for the program."

After dinner, the group walked downtown and gathered upstairs at Chanticleer for the final event of the evening: the ever-popular Pecha Kucha presentations. Students were met with dim lights, popular music, and a photo slideshow of CRP departmental and social events. A mix of current MRP, HPP, and PhD students and faculty presented 20 slides with only 20 seconds per slide before it automatically flipped to the next slide. The open-ended prompt was “How Did You Get Here?” Presenters had the audience in stitches as they flipped through baby pictures and life experiences that led them to Cornell. This event is always a favorite among prospective and current students alike. The dance floor opened up and students enjoyed beverages, music and dancing until the bar closed.

Open House weekend came to a close with a jog around town on Saturday afternoon. Current students bid prospective students farewell, hoping to see many of them again in the fall.

A few more comments we received from Open House attendees in the post-event survey:

"Pecha Kucha was a wonderful way to know professors & students better in an informal/casual atmosphere. It's a great idea."

"I thought the most worthwhile events were the classes we were invited to sit in on, and the faculty office hours. They really better equipped me to the Cornell style of teaching and instruction."

"Every student I interacted with leading up to the open house was fantastic. They are so helpful and so enthusiastic about the program."


"I really appreciated the quick turn around on my application and the incredibly informative and enthusiastic acceptance letter that I received. My entire administrative experience with Cornell so far is a major "pro" in my pro/con list as I try to decide on a program."

For those who were unable to attend Open House 2016, a recording of the departmental events can be accessed at this link.

Article Credit: Kelsey Padgham, MRP '17
Photo Credits: Kelsey Padgham, MRP '17; Annie Pease, MRP '16; Tina Marie Hayes Nelson, CRP Co-ordinator