Former CURS Director Jonathan Howes Dies at 78

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Jonathan Howes / Photo by Dan Sears, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jonathan Howes / Photo by Dan Sears, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

June 2, 2015

Jonathan Broome Howes, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies from 1970 to 1992, passed away last weekend at the age of 78. He will be remembered as a vibrant, dedicated and compassionate leader and public servant.

In 1959, Jonathan, who was completing his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill, worked at the Center as a research assistant. After graduation, he left Chapel Hill to work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development but was recruited back to the University by F. Stuart Chapin, Jr., the outgoing director, to lead the Center into a new era of translating research into practice. Jonathan encouraged his staff to apply the Center’s research expertise to the problems facing urban America and to engage with local and state agencies. He led by example, serving as City Council member for the town of Chapel Hill for over a decade, and as a two-term mayor of Chapel Hill, all while continuing his leadership of the Center and teaching at the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning.

“Jon’s dedication to creating healthy, sustainable and equitable communities throughout the state and the nation was extraordinary,” said current Center director Bill Rohe. “He was a tireless advocate for good planning and he accomplished so very, very much in his forty plus year career. Certainly, one of those accomplishments was developing CURS into one of the premier university-based, urban research centers in the country,” said Rohe. “He will be remembered for his many accomplishments and greatly missed by me and all who knew him.”

Jon left the Center in 1992 to serve as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources. Returning to the University in 1997, he served as a special assistant to the Chancellor and as the director and/or board member of several environmentally-focused, non-profit organizations such as the Triangle Land Conservancy. A memorial service for Jonathan Howes will be announced soon. The family asks that gifts in lieu of flowers be made to WUNC-FM, the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, or Triangle Land Conservancy.