Hess honored for contributions to international education

Environmental portrait of Daniel B. Hess, chair of urban and regional planning in UB's School of Architecture and Planning.

Daniel B. Hess, PhD, professor of urban planning in UB's School of Architecture and Planning, has been presented with the 2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions in International Education.

Published February 22, 2023

Daniel B. Hess, a professor in University at Buffalo’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, was recently honored with the 2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education at U

The award was established by the Council on International Studies and Programs as a university-wide honor that recognizes faculty and staff who have made extensive and longstanding contributions to international education at UB.

Those nominating Hess praised him for enhancing the intellectual lives of students and colleagues at UB and around the world, distinguishing the university with every aspect of his professorial role.

“Whether in research, service, or teaching, he makes a tangible difference in nearly every facet of international education,” said Debra Street, professor in the Department of Sociology and Director of the UB Semester in London Program, in her nomination letter. Hess has lent his support and expertise to the program, including as a guest lecturer and as a compelling guide for the program’s students touring London.

“Those experiences certainly provided direct evidence of what great opportunities Professor Hess’s own students must have when they study abroad with him […] they are with a professor who is always impeccably prepared, engaged with students, thoughtful about their needs while studying abroad, and respectful of their opportunities to learn experientially.”

Between 2012 and 2018, Hess designed, implemented, and taught eight study abroad programs for the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, in Estonia, Latvia, Russia, and England. His expertise in these regions, particularly Eastern Europe, is the culmination of his own distinguished international scholarship and research; in 2010, Hess was a Fulbright Scholar at the Tallinn University of Technology, Tartu College, in Estonia and the following year was the university’s Teacher of the Year.

Ernest Sternberg, professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, noted in his nomination letter that Hess, in a nod to his career prior to academia, is a “wide-ranging urban planner who has extended his research, teaching, and policy knowledge to include applied work on Eastern Europe and beyond.”

“He has truly expanded [the] discipline’s repertoire to bring contemporary urban planning to this crucial, and now troubled, part of this world,” Sternberg said.

Hess’s scholarship and leadership within the discipline have been vital to growing UB’s relationships in international education.

In 2012, Hess was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at Columbia University for research on Russia and Eastern Europe and was selected to attend the Winter University on Architecture and Urban Planning at Irkutsk State University (in Siberia). There he was accompanied by a UB graduate student who went on to win the event’s best student project. 

Hess also won the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2016-17) for study in the Baltics, leading him to a two-year leave for teaching and research based in Estonia, which included research in Russia. During this time and while resident at the University of Tartu, he became Director of the university’s Centre for Migration and Urban Studies, developing a series of mentoring programs, faculty advancement programs and new master’s degrees related to migration and urban planning topics.

Hess has published extensively on Eastern European planning relevant to the history, status, and future of European housing policy. Notably, he co-edited Housing Estates in the Baltic Countries: The Legacy of Central Planning in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which has become the primary scholarly source on the legacy of Soviet-built block-like housing projects.

In addition to representing the School of Architecture and Planning on the UB Council on International Studies and Programs for 10 years, while serving as chairperson of the department of Urban and Regional Planning from 2017 to 2022, Hess supported all international activities in the department and the Council on International Studies and Programs. These activities included promoting academic excellence for UB international students, supporting the establishment of a new MS in International Development and Global Health, creating new linkages between UB and partner universities abroad, and leading international recruitment trips to India, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.

Hess is a 1997 graduate of UB's Master of Urban Planning program and a former transportation planner. He received his BS in civil and environmental engineering from Clarkson University and his PhD in urban planning from University of California, Los Angeles. Hess has been a member of the faculty since 2002.

In his scholarship, Hess explores metropolitan form and urban planning practice and policy as a means to improve city functions and urban life. Central to Hess's research is addressing interactions between housing, transportation, land use, and other public concerns.

His honors and activities include Hess co-editing the Town Planning Review, an internationally oriented journal, the UB Exceptional Scholar Award, membership on the UB Presidential Commission on Academic Excellence and Equity and being a recipient of the Chester Rapkin Prize for Best Paper in the Journal of Planning and Education Research.