Established in 1996, the Planning Alumni Committee (PAC) works to enrich the learning experiences of graduate planning students at the University of Toronto. PAC’s mandate is twofold:
- to encourage networking among alumni, faculty, planning students and other planning industry professionals; and
- to raise money for planning scholarships and the Friends of Planning Fund.
PAC plays an important role in providing opportunities to enrich the educational experiences of graduate planning students. Thanks to the generous donations made to our Friends of Planning Fund, were are able to fund scholarships, student travel for conferences and field trips, alumni matching and mentoring, workshops and planning skills modules, all of which offer students a competitive advantage after they graduate.
Our programs draw in the approximately 60 students enrolled in the Masters program for multiple engagements – the events have become so popular that we yearly expand our offerings, this year with two new planning skills modules. In addition, program alumni participate in the Fall Mixer, mentoring and pairing initiatives, all of which are mutually rewarding engagements that most recently saw over 70 alumni directly involved.
PAC has been a driving force in establishing new scholarship opportunities. In 1997, PAC helped create the Peter R. Walker Planning Scholarship and is responsible for the administration of the award.
In 2004, PAC in partnership with the Department of Geography transformed the University of Toronto Planning Alumni Graduate Scholarship into an Ontario Graduate Scholarship providing $15,000 annually to a qualified graduate student.
In 2009, PAC partnered with the Faculty of Arts & Science to fund a new GSEF scholarship – The Friends of Planning Graduate Scholarship for Innovation – awarded annually to a qualified graduate student entering the second year of the Program. PAC also “topped-up” a second award in memory of Matthew Hanson, an alumnus who passed away in 2006. There are now two Matthew Hanson Scholarships awarded annually in perpetuity.
Scholarship development is an on-going activity of PAC. To learn more about how you can support PAC’s fund-raising efforts, visit Giving Back.
PAC provides support for planning-related activities including guest speakers, enhanced planning modules, workshop materials and luncheons, and field trips.
PAC also provides assistance for student attendance at planning conferences such as the Canadian Association of Planning Students Conference, the Canadian Institute of Planners Conference and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute Conference.
PAC provides financial support for the annual trip taken by second year graduate planning students to major urban centres to learn about local planning issues and challenges.
At the Friends of Planning Spring Social, PAC runs a student pairing exercise matching students with professionals who help them “work the room” and develop their professional networks.
Students are expected to enhance their professional planning expertise by undertaking a summer internship upon the completion of the first year of study. To improve the resources available to first year students searching for an internship placement, PAC and the Director of the Planning Program maintain an Internship Resource Guide and an Internship Database, which is available on-line for students.
PAC also assists with an Internship Evening where a panel of second year students share their internship experiences, and faculty and representatives from the University’s career centre provide advice.
Additional information on Program in Planning Internships is available at Graduate Planning Internship.
Matthew Hanson Planning Opportunities Workshop
PAC organizes the Matthew Hanson Planning Opportunities Workshop where recent graduates share their internship experiences, career paths and insights on finding exciting planning opportunities. This interactive workshop encourages an informal dialogue between panelists and students throughout the evening. The participation of recent planning alumni on the workshop panel also helps to demonstrate the diversity of careers available to graduates of the Program in Planning.
Matthew Hanson graduated from the Program in Planning in 2004 and practiced as a planner with Meridian Planning Consultants Inc. in Barrie, Ontario. Matthew passed away in March 2006 at his home in Barrie. In recognition of his contribution to the Program and planning practice, the Department and PAC have named the annual Planning Opportunities Workshop in his honour.
PAC runs a mentoring program during the school year. Mentoring provides a great opportunity for students to do some networking, explore their areas of interest, and get some career guidance. Student mentees are matched with professionals in their desired career field and get a better idea before graduating of what the working world is like. Mentoring is also a great opportunity for alumni to reconnect with the Program and the Department.
If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to become a mentor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planning Skills Modules
PAC offers planning skills modules to complement PAC-sponsored professional development courses on topics ranging from interviewing and networking to looking for unadvertised work.
The types of planning skills modules offered are based on results from a student survey ranking various planning topics and skill sets.
PAC’s inaugural module – Feet on the Ground: Working in Ontario’s Planning System – featured four planning alumni providing an overview of Ontario’s planning system, highlighting recent master planning projects, and engaging students in a case study exercise.