By Matthew Kredell
Lois Takahashi received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s Jay Chatterjee Award for Distinguished Service for her leadership of the ACSP and lasting impact on the field of planning.
Takahashi is the Houston I. Flournoy Professor of State Government and director of the USC Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento.
“I was surprised because this is really a big award for our association and I was not expecting it at all,” Takahashi said. “I don’t even know who nominated me. But I’ve been part of nominating others for this award and know the work it takes to put together the nomination, so it really makes you feel very humble to get something like this.”
She is the first member of the USC Price faculty to get the award, which was first given out in 1987. It was renamed after Chatterjee in 1997, and is now awarded only in even years.
Takahashi indicated that Chatterjee, one of the founding members of ACSP, has been an inspiration to her over the years.
“Another reason why it’s so nice to get this award is because I know the man it’s named after and he’s a wonderful human being who is the epitome of what you would want service to be in an association like this,” Takahashi said. “When you know the person named for the award you’re getting, it makes it extra special.”
She officially accepted the award Nov. 7 at the virtual ACSP Annual Conference, recording an acceptance speech video.
Takahashi got the award for her service to the association. She served as an officer for the ACSP for five years beginning in 2013 as vice president, president and immediate past president.
The theme of her presidency was “relevance.” This included ensuring that ACSP activities deepened their relevance for institutional and individual members by adding more topical discussions; expanding the association’s diversity work initiated by previous presidents; and reaching out to broader audiences and partnering with more sister associations for addressing institutional challenges, such as declining enrollment.
“We were able to take topics of the day and integrate them into sessions in both the national and administrators conference so that we all could learn from one another,” Takahashi said.
As an officer, Takahashi helped rebrand the association with a new logo and a tagline of “connecting educators, researchers and students.”
“It’s nice to get this award because it’s not about what you did for yourself, but what you did for other people,” Takahashi said. “It really honors people who have changed the direction of the association, provided leadership in times of trouble and thanking folks for their contributions to the association’s activities and goals.”
USC Price Prof. Marlon Boarnet currently serves as president of ACSP. He began as vice president as Takahashi transitioned out of her ACSP officer role, so he saw firsthand the impact she made with the association.
“Lois brought a lot of administrative acumen to really build the association’s infrastructure and position the ACSP for future growth,” Boarnet said. “That was strongly evident to me when I entered as vice president. Being an officer for the ACSP often is described as thankless work, so I’m glad she could get the award as a thank you.”
Boarnet asserted that the Jay Chatterjee Award recognizes Takahashi’s career of distinguished service and leadership not just to the ACSP but planning generally.
“I think it recognizes her career-long legacy of mentorship, particularly of junior faculty,” Boarnet said. “She is widely known in ACSP as someone anybody can go to for advice or help, be they senior full professors or first-year graduate students. She also has been a strong voice and example for women and Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in planning.”