Brenda Case Scheer has been dean of the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah for eight years. She is a registered architect and certified planner. She graduated with Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in architecture from Rice University and was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The Fellowship is a significant honor given in recognition of Brenda’s successful professional career.
Following her successful design career, in 1990 she was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. While teaching and writing, she has continued to practice architecture with the award-winning firm of Scheer & Scheer.
Since coming to Utah, she has completely transformed and rebranded the College, formerly the Graduate School of Architecture. As a direct result of her efforts, the College boasts one of the most well regarded urban planning departments in the US and has interdisciplinary programs in product design, preservation, and sustainability. New degrees in the College include a Ph.D. in planning, a Masters of Real Estate Development (with the Business School), and a recently accredited graduate degree in City and Metropolitan Planning. Over the last five years, enrollment in graduate programs is up 300%, resources for the College have increased 200% (during a time of budget cuts), and research grants have soared.
In the past two years, Brenda and her alumni have planned a $20 million capital campaign to support the renovation and expansion of the architecture building into a “net zero energy” facility – the first of its size in the US. Recent funding includes grants from the state of Utah (outside of normal capital projects) and a significant partnership grant with the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Lab, both of which will leverage innovative power purchase agreements to support the capital costs of new solar arrays.
Dean Scheer has prioritized social and civic responsibility, with students and faculty heavily engaged in outreach and service learning programs, as well as new interdisciplinary activities. With her support, faculty have developed multiple new hands-on programs including a project where students design and build a home for a Navajo family, an urban planning studio that concentrates on helping Hispanic neighborhoods of Salt Lake, and an innovative honors course that engages interdisciplinary freshmen and sophomores in a “think tank” with community partners.
Dean Scheer is also a noted scholar, with 19 research grants or contracts, and twenty-four book chapters and journal articles. Her most recent book, The Evolution of Urban Form: Typology for Planners and Architects, was published in October 2010. Her research focuses on design and planning policy. The mission of her research is to provide theory and guidance to designers and policy makers who combat sprawl and protect significant places.