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Remembering Janet Smith (PhD ’98)

The School of Urban Affairs joins the University of Illinois Chicago’s (UIC) College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs in remembering Dr. Janet Smith (PhD ’98), Urban Planning and Policy Professor and Voorhees Center Co-Director, who passed away on January 17, 2022, after battling cancer.

“From her time at Levin as a PhD student, to her distinguished academic career, to her dedication to housing justice, to her leadership of UIC's union faculty, to her leadership of the ISA Housing Research Center following me, Janet was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed,” said Dr. W. Dennis Keating, Professor Emeritus at the School of Urban Affairs.

A tribute by UIC shares that for a quarter century, Janet’s teaching, research, and community service have focused on equity issues in housing planning and policy, including the transformation of public housing projects throughout the US, the expansion of housing options for people with disabilities, the relationship between housing and health, and community-driven strategies to keep housing costs affordable.

Janet led several large-scale housing research projects in Chicago, including a regional homeless needs assessment and rental market studies funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The impact of her work earned Janet several honors, including the Urban Affairs Association’s 2020 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award for her “truly outstanding … contributions and commitment to activist-scholarship.”

Since joining UIC in August 1997, she served as a mentor to numerous doctoral and graduate students who have gone on to work for community organizations and in the public and private sectors and the academy. Janet received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at UIC before earning her PhD from the School of Urban Affairs in 1998. She is survived by her husband, James.