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PennDesign Receives $1.25 Million Gift to Establish Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize and Award in City and Regional Planning

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Philadelphia—The University of Pennsylvania School of Design has received a $1.25 million gift from William Witte (C’73, MCP’75) and his wife, Keiko Sakamoto, Esq. to establish an annual prize for an outstanding planning student at PennDesign, along with a professional award for innovation and impact in planning.

The Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize in City and Regional Planning carries a $50,000 fellowship and will be awarded to a student entering his or her final year in the Master of City and Regional Planning program.

“We’re deeply grateful to Bill and Keiko for their commitment to the next generation of planners,” said Frederick Steiner, dean and Paley Professor at PennDesign, who earned a PhD and MA in city and regional planning and a Master of Regional Planning from Penn.

In conjunction with the Prize, the School will present an annual award to a firm, team, or professional for an exemplary plan that advances plan making in at least four of the following areas: social equity, environmental quality, design, public health, mobility, housing affordability, and economic development.

“It’s incumbent on those of us who work on cities to make sure that we not only practice responsible development, but that it’s holistic and we deal with all these different issues,” said Witte, a PennDesign alumnus and member of the School’s Board of Overseers who has had a lifelong interest in cities. “I want to encourage students to think big, think in a multi-disciplinary way, and make a difference in a community.”

Lisa Servon, professor and chair of city and regional planning at PennDesign, said, “The Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize will help one of our exceptional students pursue his or her dream without worrying as much about financial obligations.” Servon is the author of The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives and conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race.

The inaugural winners will be announced in the spring of 2019.

William Witte is chairman and CEO of Related California, a subsidiary of the international real estate development firm based in New York. Witte, who founded Related California in 1989, oversees Related’s multi-family and mixed-use development activity in California. Previously, Witte served as deputy mayor for Housing and Neighborhoods under Mayor Art Agnos where he oversaw all housing, development and redevelopment activities for the City of San Francisco. He was director of Housing and Economic Development under Mayor Dianne Feinstein and served as an appointed commissioner of the San Francisco Housing Authority. Witte earned a Bachelor of Arts from Penn in 1973 and a Master in City Planning in 1975.

Consistently ranked among the country’s top design schools, PennDesign enrolls more than 700 students in 26 degree and 16 certificate programs. Among PennDesign’s distinguished planning alumni are Nisha Botchwey (MCP’99, PhD’03), Denise Scott Brown (MCP’60, MArch’65), Anne Fadullon (MCP’88), Terry Farrell (MArch/MCP’64), Sandra Featherman (MCP’78, PhD’78), Allan Jacobs (MCP’54), John Keene (MCP’66), Arie Nesher (MArch/MCP’76, PhD’81), Michael Ogar (MCP’80, PhD’83) Karen Beck Pooley (PhD’07), Jonathan F.P. Rose (MRP’80), Eleanor Sharpe (MCP’99), Michael A. Stegman (MCP’64, PhD’66), and Daniel Watch (MCP’86).

To support the next generation of planners, architects, landscape architects, preservationists, or artists to be educated at PennDesign, contact Jeffrey Snyder, assistant dean for development and alumni relations, at or 215.898.8738.

Media Contact: Michael Grant, director of communications,, 215.898.2539.