October 27, 2009

Former city planner and student joins Office of Civic Engagement

Former city planner Arnold Randall Jr. (X ’94) was appointed a director in the Office of Civic Engagement last week. Randall will oversee University construction projects that overlap with public property, such as the Harper Court redevelopment project.

From 2007 until the beginning of this year, Randall served as commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. He also served as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deputy chief of staff for economic development and as deputy commissioner of planning and development. He last worked for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid.

Vice President for Civic Engagement Ann Marie Lipinski said this experience makes Randall, a Woodlawn resident, an ideal candidate for the job.

“He’s been here a long time, so he’s very knowledgeable about the city and about the South Side,” she said.

Randall was unavailable for comment.

Randall will be involved in redeveloping Harper Court, the ailing shopping center on 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue that the University bought in May 2008.

The University is pooling development efforts with the city, which owns a neighboring parking lot, and Randall’s connections with the city’s planning department will provide new insight into the process, Lipinski said.

“[Randall] has been in those conversations from the city perspective or had been a long time ago,” Lipinski said.

While Harper Court has been one of the more high-profile community-related projects the University has taken on in recent years, most University projects will require just as much attention to community needs, Lipinski said.

Ongoing work on the South Campus Residence Hall, for example, has involved “multiple conversations and interactions required between the University and government bodies and community groups to get that work done,” Lipkinski said. “It’s everything from zoning questions, permitting questions, landscape questions, streetscape questions, all of which someone needs to oversee.”

She added: “There are other [projects] that don’t get as much attention but which need really smart communication between the University and aldermen... between public bodies and private residents who have a stake in these projects.”

Randall graduated from the University of Illinois and worked towards a master’s degree from the School for Social Administration.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to return to the University and put my planning experience to work for a great institution,” Randall said in a press release. “I look forward to digging into some of the exciting projects already underway, and building the relationships that will help us plan for the future.”