The planning program at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa was established in 1969. It was first known as the Pacific Urban Studies and Planning Program (PUSPP) in the College of Social Sciences (CSS). It had one full-time faculty member, Professor Tom Dinell. The program initially offered a Certificate in Planning Studies in conjunction with a master’s or doctoral degree in an affiliated field. These included geography, political science, economics, sociology, architecture, civil engineering and public health.
In January 1973 the Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree. The American Planning Association recognized the MURP degree program at UHM in 1981. By then, the PUSP Program had evolved into the Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning. It later became the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) in 1982.
As of Spring 2019, the Department has graduated 558 MURP and 27 PhD students. Over the years the faculty has grown to include five full-time faculty and five part-time faculty. Two part-time faculty hold executive positions. One is Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience in the Offices of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research. The other is Chair of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. Three part-time faculty have joint appointments with other academic units: UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO), the UH Sea Grant College, and the UH School of Pacific and Asian Studies (SPAS).
The PhD program admitted its first students in Fall 2002. In July 2011 the Board of Regents unanimously approved the PhD Program to Established Status. The goals we have set for our PhD program directly support the mission of the University of Hawaii as a center of excellence in the Asia-Pacific Region. DURP is the only department in the Pacific region providing a fully accredited MURP degree and a PhD program in urban and regional planning. These programs serve Hawai’i and the US Flag Islands in the Pacific area as well as other countries of the Asia-Pacific region
In 2018, DURP launched its alumni association, the DURP ‘Ohana. We value the support and enthusiasm of our rich alumni network – a strong indicator of the difference the Department can make in people’s lives and communities. Many of our alumni have held or now hold leadership positions in both government and the private sector.