Ellen M. Bassett Selected as Dean of College of Design

After a national search, Ellen M. Bassett has been selected as the John Portman Dean’s Chair of Georgia Tech’s College of Design. Bassett is currently a professor of urban and environmental planning and the associate dean for Research in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. She is also director of the school’s Real Estate Design and Development certificate program. Previously, she served as chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, where she oversaw curricular revision, developed a real estate certificate program, and ushered the department through two reaccreditation processes. She will assume her leadership role at Georgia Tech Jan. 1, 2022.

Before the University of Virginia, she was on faculty at Portland State University, where she taught for five years in an urban studies program. Prior to Portland State, she taught at Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design, and Construction.

“In addition to expertise in her field, Ellen Bassett exhibits the vision and inclusive leadership style that will serve Georgia Tech well,” said Steven W. McLaughlin, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “She brings a global perspective to her research, teaching, and community engagement, and we are looking forward to her administrative leadership at Tech.” 

Bassett holds both a Ph.D. and M.S. in urban and regional planning, along with an M.A. in history, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.  

Her areas of scholarly interest and expertise are land use planning and environmental law, climate change adaptation and mitigation planning, and land rights and urban deprivation in rapidly growing cities in the Global South. Her research has been published in the leading peer-reviewed journals in urban planning, urban studies, and international development. Bassett has conducted research and published with a variety of colleagues in fields including law, economics, landscape architecture, nutrition, environmental science, and public health. She is a member of the University of Virginia Environmental Resilience Institute’s steering committee, a core researcher on a negative carbon emissions/climate restoration project for the state of Virginia, and the leader of a CoLab examining climate change adaptation in urban Kenya.

Bassett has a deep commitment to international engagement, scholarship, and teaching. She was a Fulbright Scholar and worked for more than a decade in Kenya and Uganda as an urban and environmental planner with international development agencies and environmental conservation nongovernmental organizations. She has consulted with the World Bank and played a key role in working with emergent leaders in the Mandela-Washington Fellowship Program funded by the U.S. Department of State. Bassett is committed to real-world impact on communities and community members, particularly vulnerable groups.

“Professor Bassett’s contributions across the School of Architecture and the University of Virginia have been extraordinary,” said Malo A. Hutson, dean of the School of Architecture at UVA. “In addition to being a highly respected faculty colleague engaging in impactful research, her active role in university-wide faculty governance demonstrates a rare but powerful asset – the combination of insightful strategic decision-making and spirited advocacy through inclusive leadership. While we will miss her greatly, we are so proud to have her join such an exceptional institution.”

About the College of Design

The College of Design plays a creative and influential role in the Institute’s guiding principle: that technology has the power to improve the human condition. The College’s students, faculty, and researchers use design to bridge academic and cultural boundaries; make everyday life better for people here in Georgia; and collaborate with communities around the world.

The College of Design spans the disciplines of Architecture, Building Construction, City and Regional Planning, Industrial Design, and Music. The College endeavors to anticipate the future of buildings and cities, develop new products and technologies, and change the way people experience and make music. This work builds on the legacy of more than a century of design education at Georgia Tech.

About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students, representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning.

As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

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