Kathryn Foster Named New Director of UB's Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth

By Rachel Mansour

Release Date: July 26, 2005 This content is archived.


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Kathryn Foster has been named director of the Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth effective Sept. 1.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kathryn A. Foster, Ph.D., who served as director of research for the University at Buffalo's Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth for six years, has been named director of the institute effective Sept. 1.

An associate professor in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, she served as chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the UB School of Architecture and Planning for 2½ years, stepping down on June 30.

Foster, whose scholarship focuses on areas including governance, regions and regionalism, and metropolitan decision-making, has been involved integrally in the institute since its founding in 1997.

The institute plays a vital role in addressing key governance and quality-of-life issues in the Buffalo Niagara region. A major public service of the University at Buffalo, it leverages the resources of the university and binational community to pursue a wide range of scholarship, projects and initiatives that inform regional challenges.

As the institute's director of research for six years, Foster was deeply involved with research and analysis of issues and initiatives of importance to the Buffalo-Niagara region, including regional planning, government efficiency, economic development and service delivery.

Since 1999, she has directed the institute's major performance measurement project, "State of the Region: Performance Indicators for the Buffalo-Niagara Region in the 21st Century," which won awards from the regional and state divisions of the American Planning Association.

She will succeed John B. Sheffer II, who has served as founding director of the institute since 1997 and previously announced plans to retire.

In announcing her appointment, UB President John B. Simpson noted that Foster "brings to the table impressive scholarly and administrative experience in the areas of governance, public affairs, and civic and regional planning, and she is tremendously well-equipped to guide the mission of the Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth."

Simpson said that "in important ways, the institute exemplifies the University at Buffalo's leadership in civic engagement and public policy -- one of the 10 interdisciplinary areas identified through the UB 2020 strategic planning process as the university's core academic strengths."

"Under the strong leadership of John Sheffer," he added, "the institute has become widely known and respected for the quality and impact of its analysis of issues in regionalism, urban planning and public governance. Kate has played a key role in developing this reputation over the years, and I have every confidence that she will continue building on this leadership tradition in very significant ways."

UB's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Satish K. Tripathi, note that "understanding the depth of issues that impacts one's region greatly assists community members with making informed decisions regarding its future. As a nationally regarded researcher in regionalism and urban planning, I am very confident that Professor Foster will further the institute's efforts in transferring its work for the political, economic and social benefit of our region. I am very excited that Kate has accepted this leadership position."

Foster noted that "as a result of John Sheffer's leadership and award-winning work by a first-rate staff, the institute has become a significant regional resource for Buffalo Niagara. It is truly among the nation's most respected university-based centers for regional information, analysis and action.

"Assuming the helm of the institute is a tremendous honor and opportunity for me," she added. "I look forward to continuing our work with governments, regional partners and the university community to investigate and address important regional issues."

Sheffer praised Foster's selection, as well as her work with the institute. "As our director of research, she has been absolutely central to our work and mission. She knows what the institute has been, but also knows what it can be and should be for the university and the region.

"Especially in these challenging times in the Buffalo Niagara region," Sheffer added, "the institute has a vital role in providing reliable and practical data and insights on critical regional issues. As a nationally respected regional scholar and experienced project leader, Kate Foster is exactly the right person to lead this important effort."

Foster also received high praise from Mary H. Gresham, UB vice president for public service and urban affairs and dean of its Graduate School of Education.  

"I am thrilled that Professor Foster has accepted this position," Gresham said. "She has the experience, the vision and the energy to take the institute to the next level and to build on its distinguished past."

Foster has been on the faculty of the UB School of Architecture and Planning since 1993 and has served since 1999 as a member of UB's Canada-American Studies Committee. She is a founding

member of the UB Governance Project and project director of its major publication, "Governance in Erie County: A Foundation for Understanding and Action."

During the 2000-01 academic year, she was a visiting fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is a fellow in the World Academy of Art and Science and a member of the editorial board of State and Local Government Review.

Foster is the author of "The Political Economy of Special-Purpose Government" (Georgetown University Press, 1997), "Regionalism on Purpose" (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2001) and numerous articles and book chapters on regions and governance. She is a member of a MacArthur Foundation-funded research project, "Building Successful Regions," and is working on a book examining various governance systems to glean insights and lessons for U.S. metropolitan regions.

She is a frequent speaker, panelist and participant in public-affairs programs throughout Buffalo Niagara, and has served on numerous committees and advisory groups, including service as chair of the advisory board for WBFO 88.7 FM, UB's national public radio affiliate. She was an Athena Award nominee in 2000 and designated by The Buffalo News in 1996 as one of the region's next generation of leaders.

Foster earned a bachelor's degree in geography from the Johns Hopkins University, a master's degree in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in public and international affairs from Princeton University.

She is a resident of Buffalo.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.