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Meet Professor Matthew Gebhardt
Meet Professor Matthew Gebhardt

Assistant Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

Exploring plan implementation.

Ph.D. Urban Planning, Columbia University
M.Phil. Urban Planning, Columbia University
M.A. Urban & Regional Planning, University
   of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
B.A. Urban & Regional Planning, University
   of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
B.A. Economics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


  • Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning
  • Masters in Real Estate Development Committee
  • Oregon University System International Program Steering Committee

Redevelopment; infill development; coalition building; plan implementation;


  • USP 423/523 Real Estate Development I
  • USP 612 Community, Planning and Ethics
  • USP 311U Introduction to Urban Planning
  • USP 527 Downtown Revitalization

Politics, Planning and Power: Redeveloping Public Housing in Chicago, 2009.


Telephone: (503) 725-5130
Office: Urban Center 370 S

Professor Matthew Gebhardt explores why some plans get implemented and others do not. He teaches classes in the Real Estate Program, a joint effort with the School of Business, and in Urban Studies and Planning. His research focuses on how institutions, financing tools, regulations, and other factors can either impede or ease plan implementation. He is interested in how the public and private sector can work together to promote sustainability and social justice. 

His current research involves comparative study of housing redevelopment policies across US cities as well as between US and international cities. He has received a HUD grant and a faculty enhancement grant from PSU to research the demographic and spatial patterns of Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Planning Grant applications. He hopes this research will prove useful for HUD in better understanding the distribution of CNI grants and for Portland in positioning itself for federal grants.

Prior to joining PSU in 2012, Professor Gebhardt taught at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom--England’s top planning school. He taught multiple workshop/studio classes that took students through development and planning processes working with local sites and clients. In his classes, Professor Gebhardt helps students develop the technical, software and communication skills necessary to successfully present and advocate for their plans. Professor Gebhardt has also taught classes on real estate development, housing, redevelopment planning and planning history and theory. Coursework preparation required Professor Gebhardt to learn the English planning system in detail. This acquired knowledge led to the development of several case studies between US and English cities. He plans to continue this comparative research at PSU.

Prior to joining academia, Professor Gebhardt worked as a senior associate for an interdisciplinary consulting firm in Chicago. As a planning consultant, he worked with public and private clients in the Midwest and on the East Coast on both sides of the planning and development process. His projects included the development of comprehensive, tax increment financing, transit oriented development and neighborhood plans as well as development review, site design, and impact assessment. The process of shepherding plans through approval sparked his intellectual curiosity and led him to pursue a doctorate at Columbia University. He enjoys the role of shaping professionals to do better planning work, and in turn, have a hand in improving future urban areas.

What Professor Gebhardt has to say...

BEST PARTS OF JOB: Learning new things. Acquiring and sharing knowledge is what drives and motivates me.

UNIQUENESS OF THE TOULAN SCHOOL: I love the diversity of backgrounds of the people teaching and doing research here. The school is inherently multi-disciplinary with so many people doing different things yet sharing a real commitment to urban studies. 

ON TEACHING IN PORTLAND: I like that PSU has an urban campus and uses the city as a laboratory. The ability to walk out of the building, point out the window, and access what we are discussing in class is powerful in helping students apply their learning outside the classroom. The willingness of the development, nonprofit, and planning community has been fantastic. I had more people volunteer to speak in my classes than I had slots. The city provides great access and exposure to students.

HOW I FIT INTO THAT VISION: I support the internationalization of the program. I hope to increase the diversity of viewpoints, bring new case studies into the classroom and scholarly work. I plan to maintain my connections in Europe, build on them, and make new connections in other parts of the world.

WHAT STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE AWAY: An inquiring mind and a willingness to see multiple sides of problems. I help students develop assuredness in how they challenge authority and power. I help students develop the skills needed to deliver quality products. I help students gain confidence in their positions, make clear, reasoned arguments, organize and present their information in compelling ways, and write and speak clearly and concisely. These skills translate into getting things done. Ultimately, I want to empower students to feel confident in stating their positions to others in positions of power.

ON INTERACTING WITH STUDENTS: I love to argue with students and discuss various sides of a problem and come to a reasoned solution. I take a lot of satisfaction when students “get it”--learn a new computer program, better organize their ideas and information, understand a philosophical concept, see connections between theory and practice...It is so rewarding. I love to stay in touch with former students and hear about their successes.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS: Read voraciously. Don’t be afraid to state your opinions. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Be willing to listen and change your argument. Be compassionate.

WHEN NOT TEACHING I... Spend time with my six year-old daughter, travel, and read.

RECENT TRAVEL: To Turkey for a conference.