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Jacobs Named Director Of UW-Madison Land Tenure Center

Harvey M. Jacobs has been named the new director of the Land Tenure Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jacobs assumed his new post July 1.

“I have great respect for what the Center represents as an institution,” Jacobs said. “As is true of many people of my generation I looked to the work of the Center for inspiration during crucial periods of intellectual development. I accept this position with enthusiasm for the potential of the Center to remain a leading research, outreach, and training unit for the 21st century.”

“Professor Jacobs is uniquely qualified to lead LTC”s programs and we look forward to his participation as the Center”s new director,” said Elton D. Aberle, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, after appointing him. Jacobs is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, which is a joint department within CALS and the College of Letters and Science.

Established in 1962 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, LTC centers its research and training on the relationship landownership has with social structure, economic development, political organization, and environmental sustainability. LTC has now worked in more than 75 countries. Jacobs says that the issues at the core of the Center”s activities these past 37 years are more meaningful today than even at the time of the Center”s founding. “Though some economists predicted otherwise, land has become more vital as a factor of production as economic development has progressed across the globe,” he said.

To illustrate this, Jacobs points out numerous examples worldwide. Land is central to the process of state definition in the post-communist countries of eastern Europe and central Asia. It is a locus for the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa. It is at the center of debates in North America about how far government regulation can extend before individual rights are threatened. And land is crucial to the reassertion of tribal rights by native peoples in the United States and other countries.

Jacobs has been a member of the UW-Madison faculty for 15 years. He is an award-winning teacher and researcher. He has been named one of the best professors at the university by the Wisconsin Student Association, and his colleagues elected him as a charter member of the Wisconsin Teaching Academy. His work is required reading in urban planning programs throughout the country, and he has conducted research in Albania, France, Italy, Kenya, Poland, and the United States. In the last decade, Jacobs focused his domestic research on the rise, impact and meaning of the private property rights movement in the United States. Last year his book Who Owns America? Social Conflict Over Property Rights was published by the University of Wisconsin Press. His international research focuses on public policy alternatives for protecting agricultural land at the edge of rapidly growing cities in developing countries.

“I welcome the opportunity to bring my skills and perspective to bear on the Land Tenure Center”s leadership,” Jacobs said. “I know of no other university-based institution with the history and reputation of the Land Tenure Center. I look forward to working with all involved in re-establishing the Center as a true cross-college institution and integrating its traditional strengths with new initiatives.”