In Memoriam of Irving Hand

Dr. Irving Hand, “The Professor”

“The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.” — Cicero

Historic Impact on Planning, FAICP
With nearly 60 years of nationally recognized accomplishments in planning, Professor Irving Hand exemplified professional and personal excellence.  In the early 1950s, Hand played an instrumental role in establishing the Tulsa (OK) Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, which consolidated the Tulsa City and Tulsa County Planning Commissions, one of the earliest such endeavors in the nation.

Professor Hand moved on to serve as Director of Advance Planning and Research for the Nashville City Planning Commission and the Davidson County Planning Commission and as Planning Director between 1953 and 1964. During the period immediately following World War II, according to Carole Bucy, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair of the Volunteer State Community College, in her article, “Short History of Metropolitan Government for Nashville-Davidson County,” urban areas of Tennessee, including Nashville, began experiencing rapid growth. As suburbs developed in Davidson County, surrounding Nashville, the city’s tax base began to erode. As a result, residents who lived outside of the city limits were not able to receive adequate urban services. Bucy wrote, “Divisions and inequities between the city and the county became increasingly evident. The city and county competed for tax revenues and there was much overlapping of services.” Clearly, a new plan needed to be enacted.

Under Hand’s direction, the original Plan of Metropolitan Government for Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee (1956) established the framework for governmental consolidation of Nashville and Davidson County and was designated as a Planning Landmark by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Subsequently, he directed the planning staff in supporting the first and second Charter Commissions tasked with developing a Charter of Metropolitan Government for the city and county. Hand’s leadership was instrumental in facilitating the creation of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County in 1962.

Today, in the United States, out of over 3, 100 county units, there are approximately 17 consolidated governments. Each of these 17 units of local government is some variation on the Nashville plan of 1962. Prior to 1962, in Davidson County, Tennessee, the legislative delegation was elected as a whole until the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Baker v. Carr in 1962. Hand played a critical role in developing supporting demographic and reapportionment documentation for these proceedings that led to the decision known, in case law, as “one man – one vote.” At that time, Nashville Mayor Ben Best wrote in a letter to Mr. Hand on March 30, 1962: “You have helped make history in the reapportionment case. We could not have won this great victory for the taxpayers of this community without your dedicated effort . . .”

In 1964, Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton appointed Professor Hand as Director of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board. While serving in this capacity under three successive administrations, Professor Hand helped shape Pennsylvania’s planning enabling legislation in 1968 with the adoption of Pennsylvania’s first Municipalities Planning Code. That Code remains in effect today.

Excellence in Literature and Education
After leaving the State Planning Board in 1972, Professor Hand played a prominent role in planning education at the Pennsylvania State University, Capital College, where he served as the Chairman of the Graduate Degree Program in Urban and Regional Planning. Additionally, in 1973 and 1978, respectively, Professor Hand established the Institute of State and Regional Affairs and the Pennsylvania State Data Center. Both organizations continue to serve planning needs not only in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but also nationwide.

Furthermore, in 1979, Professor Hand developed the Penn State University annual Basic Economic Development Course. This course is accredited by the American Economic Development Council (AEDC) and remains as a more current testament of his lifelong contributions to the planning profession.
During his tenure at Penn State, Hand was co-editor, along with Frank So and Bruce McDowell, of The Practice of State and Regional Planning (1986), published by the American Planning Association (APA) in cooperation with the International City Management Association (ICMA). This publication was honored with an award by the Intergovernmental Affairs Division of APA and has provided a singular reference in the field.

Excellence in Citizen Participation
Following his retirement in 1993 from Penn State as Professor of State and Regional Planning Emeritus, Professor Hand served as Principal Emeritus and Chairman, Board of Directors, Delta Development Group, Inc., a consulting firm in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. During his tenure, he helped the firm to grow to over 50 employees and stretched the geographic boundaries to include projects throughout the United States.

He also was a charter member of the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance, established in 1996, an eight-county regional planning organization in South Central Pennsylvania. He served as chair of the Land Use and Growth Management Committee. Hand was Professor Emeritus, State and Regional Planning, with Penn State Harrisburg where he served on the faculty from 1972 to 1993. Professor Hand was also called upon to serve as a Senior Advisor in the establishment of a graduate degree program in planning at Temple University’s Harrisburg campus.

Professor Hand was a fellow in the College of Fellows, AICP, and a member of APA, where he served as president in 1981 and 1982. He was also president of the American Institute of Planners (AIP) from 1965 to 1967. Other notable affiliations include: the Pennsylvania Planning Association (PPA), Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA), Urban Land Institute, the American Society of Public Administration, the Transportation Research Board, and the International Economic Development Council.

Professor Hand held a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed graduate work with the Institute of Public Administration at New York University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences from the City College of New York.

Professional Accomplishments

  • Master of City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  • Institute of Public Administration, New York University,
  • Bachelor of Science, Social Sciences, City College of New York
  • First Planning Director, newly established Tulsa County, Oklahoma, Planning Commission (1950)
  • Instrumental in the establishment of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (1952)
  • As Planning Director, City of Nashville and Davidson County Planning Commissions (TN), was instrumental in the establishment of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (1962)
  • As Planning Director, provided the demographic and reapportionment documentation for the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Carr (1962)
  • As Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Planning Board, saw to the enactment of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (1968)
  • As Professor of State and Regional Planning at Penn State Harrisburg (1972 to 1993)
  • Established the Institute of State and Regional Affairs (1973)
  • Established the State Data Center (1978)
  • Chaired the Graduate Degree Program in Urban and Regional Planning (1980 to 1993)
  • Established the Pennsylvania Basic Economic Development Course (1979)
  • Co-editor of The Practice of State and Regional Planning, published by APA and ICMA (1986)
  • Held regional and national office in AIP, American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO), and APA
  • President, Southeast Chapter, AIP, mid to late 1950’s; wrote the first manual for the organization and functioning of chapters within AIP
  • National President of the AICP
  • Charter member of APA (active in bringing about consolidation of AIP and ASPO)
  • National President of AIP (1981 to 1986)
  • Awarded Planner of the Year, Pennsylvania Planning Association (1985)
  • Mildred and Irving Hand Scholarship Fund for Public Affairs, Urban and Regional Planning – established by Penn State University in the School of Public Affairs, Harrisburg, 1993
    Professional Recognition
  • Testimonial to Irving Hand, Associate Planner, Westchester County (NY) Department of Planning, January 1953
  • Commendation and thanks to Irving Hand, Nashville, Metropolitan Planning Commission, December 16, 1963
  • A resolution commending Irving Hand, Metropolitan Council of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 1964
  • Expression of appreciation to Irving hand, Metropolitan Planning Commission of Nashville and Davidson County, November 1964
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Irving Hand, Member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Governor’s Commission for Transportation in developing the planning design for a Department of Transportation, May 1969
  • The Council of State Planning Agencies, Honorary Membership conferred to Irving Hand, 1970
  • Transportation Research Board, testimonial of appreciation to Irving Hand for distinguished services as Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Land Development, 1973 to 1978
  • Graduate School of Public Administration, New York University, distinguished service award to Irving Hand, April 24, 1982
  • Public Land Law Review Commission, in appreciation for services performed in the public interest by Irving Hand in working with the Commission as a representative of the Governor of Pennsylvania
  • Mildred and Irving Hand, Community Mitzvah Heroes, TIKKUN OLAM award presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, April 15, 2003
  • Recognition of outstanding service to Harrisburg Hospital, presented to Mildred and Irving Hand, April 15, 2003
  • 2014 National Planning Excellence Awards: Planning Pioneer
  • Irving Hand Annual Scholarship Award, stipend of $2, 500, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Planning Association for those in professional planning who are mid-career and wish to pursue further professional development, established by Delta Development Group, Inc., 2004-2015

Memorial contributions may be made to The Mildred and Irving Hand Scholarship Fund in Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057-4898; Temple Ohev Sholom, 2345 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

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