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The idea for the UC Davis Center for Regional Change arose in a dialogue between the faculty in Community Development and Environmental Design/Landscape Architecture as a model of cross-departmental collaboration. This challenge was taken up by the late Ted Bradshaw, Professor of Community Development. Based on his commitment to engaged scholarship and university innovation, Bradshaw conceived the idea for a Center for Regional Change as a way to break down disciplinary silos and to better bridge campus-community divides. The faculty and administration of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences embraced the concept as a way to expand the base of excellence of the College to address the social, economic, political and environmental dimensions of sustainability on community and regional scales.
In 2005, CA&ES Dean Van Alfen appointed an ad-hoc committee of faculty and regional leaders to develop the framework for the Center under Bradshaw's leadership. Bradshaw completed this proposal several weeks before his death in the summer of 2006. At that point, Jonathan London, who had worked with Bradshaw to plan the Center, was appointed as Interim Director. London was subsequently hired as Director in conjunction with an appointment as Assistant Professor in Community Development in July 2008. The Center for Regional Change hosts an annual Ted Bradshaw Memorial Distinguished Lectureship each fall, manages a Bradshaw Memorial Fund to support outstanding Community Development graduate students and alumnae, and has benefited from the generous donation of much of his library by his widow, Betty Lou Bradshaw, to form the basis the Center for Regional Change reference library.