2007 – Lee Smith, MUPP ’87
Since 2004, the CUPPA Alumni Association Board of Directors has presented the Alumni Appreciation Award recognizing individuals or groups for their dedication to the fields of urban planning and public administration and their contributions to the development of the college's students and alumni. The recipient of this year’s award is Lee Smith, MUPP ’87.
After graduation Lee Smith moved through several planning positions including a brief stay in Highland Park, Illinois, only to returned to Highland Park as their Level I Planner, and has served there since.
While in that position he has contributed to CUPPA activities including 8 years working with the Annual Job Fair, interviewing for interns with Highland Park, from which he was responsible for the hiring of 15 interns, personally supervising many of them. He also participated in the Life-Long Learning Day as a Housing Action panelist in November, 2003
Working with Michael Blue and the Highland Park City Council, Lee developed a corporate program, guidelines and funding for an Affordable Housing Program in Highland Park. This program is unique in the region and state, and one of only a few working models in the nation. It has funded, built and filled its first housing unit of eight, and is planning the next construct with funding provided through a subdivision option to either provide affordable housing in new developments or contribute to the Affordable Housing Fund. Through this mechanism, other affordable units have been created in private development projects also. This work was recognized by the Chicago Metropolitan Section of the APA in an award to Lee Smith and Mayor Belsky at the awards luncheon in 2005. The Illinois Chapter of APA likewise recognized this work with an award at its Annual Conference at Starved Rock in 2005. The National APA Conference similarly recognized him and Michael Blue with one of their annual awards.
The CUPPA Alumni Association has presented the CUPPA Alumni Appreciation Award recognizing individuals or groups for their dedication to the fields of urban planning and public administration and their contributions to the development of the college's students and alumni. In November 2010, the Board of Directors of the CUPPA-AA voted unanimously to rename the award to the Jim Marek Alumni Appreciation Award honoring the former CUPPA assistant dean for student services, Jim Marek. Marek retired from his post in CUPPA on February 6, 2007 after over twenty-nine years of service to the university, its students and alumni. He unexpectedly died on August 13, 2010.