Jeff Speck, Class of 1985

An important front in the effort against climate change turns out to be the city. We humans are causing this crisis and most of us now live in urban areas, so the effort to transform our cities into sustainable communities is vital, and one of its preeminent thinkers and planners is you. As an architect, consultant, writer, speaker, and activist, you have become a global leader in the effort to reimagine cities, with an eye on both sustainability and livability—in other words, the health of individuals and communities. Your influential books include Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, The Smart Growth Manual, and The Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. The last of these shows how thoughtful urban planning can also address such national challenges as obesity, pollution, and the demise of the middle class. As director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts you oversaw the Mayors Institute on City Design and created the Governors Institute on Community Design, a federal program that helps governors fight sprawl. You have even contributed to the Sustainability Task Force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps most importantly, you have shown, in true liberal arts manner, how it is that the best designed cities sustain both body and soul.

In recognition of your distinguished achievement in urban design, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.

September 17, 2016