Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Extending the Urban Studies Fellowship Program.

August 19, 1967

THE BILL I sign today illustrates another aspect of the Federal Government's response to America's urban needs.

During the past few years we have taken a series of steps toward meeting the resource gaps in American cities. We have proposed a model cities program to rehabilitate older cities and to reclaim the opportunity for residential urban life. We have proposed a rent supplement program to meet our promise of a decent home for all Americans. We have proposed a research and development program to provide more sophisticated techniques for dealing with the problems facing our cities. We must move forward with these commitments.

But all this legislative progress will be barren without the underlying commitment of human resources--people with talent, with advanced training; people equipped to grapple with the physical, social, and economic problems of cities.

At the very time we are being confronted with urgent demands in our cities, we face a severe shortage of persons equipped to deal with the growing complexities of urban development. This shortage is so critical that it challenges our ability even to maintain past levels of competence, much less to meet the fast-growing demands of today and tomorrow.

In March 1967 there were between 1,500 and 1,700 vacancies for urban planners of various kinds. Today's universities are graduating less than half that number.

Our universities tell us that there are two or three times as many qualified applicants for urban studies programs as the available fellowship programs can support. Many of these applicants, unable to find financial assistance in the urban development field, will be forced to look elsewhere.

Standing alone, this Urban Studies Fellowship program will not close the manpower gap of qualified professionals in urban affairs. But it will help--and it does show the way. Besides directly aiding the recipients of fellowships it will stimulate universities to expand their urban affairs programs, and it will encourage other universities to initiate them. Also it will, hopefully, encourage other fellowship programs, both public and private.

Last year, as a part of our response to urban needs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development took the first step toward meeting this urban manpower shortage. Ninety-five fellowships for full-time graduate study, in 40 public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education, were awarded to students for the 1967-68 academic year. The awards were made by Secretary Weaver upon the recommendation of the Urban Studies Fellowship Advisory Board composed of nine members from universities and national institutions.

Reflecting our needs to cope with the growing complexity of urban problems, awards were made for study in such fields as municipal administration, urban sociology, city and regional planning, urban law, and urban affairs with an emphasis on the social and economic problems of urban development. The thrust of these programs is toward coordinating the social, economic, and physical resources available in solving urban problems.

These are the crucial skills in determining the future of our dries. With the development of talent on a broader scale than ever before possible, our urban problems will, we believe, appear somewhat less formidable. America has the resources, and the will, to solve her urban problems. Increasing our capacity to solve them is the first important step.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 1762) is Public Law 90-66 (81 Stat. 167).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Extending the Urban Studies Fellowship Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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