Sara Bronin, an architect, attorney and policymaker who was recently nominated to chair the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, will soon join the Cornell community as a professor in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and become an associated faculty member of the Law School.
A former professor at the University of Connecticut, Bronin is a leading expert on historic preservation and land use. In the fall, she will be teaching a course on historic preservation law while also finalizing her book, titled Key to the City, which will explore the myriad impacts of zoning.
“What I see at Cornell is a vibrant community of scholars but also a community that deeply cares about each other and the potential for scholarship and service to change the world,” Bronin told The Sun.
The Biden administration nominated Bronin to chair the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in June, an independent federal government agency that advises the presidential administration on how to best preserve important historic places and resources.
Bronin is also a member of the American Law Institute and has previously served as a chair of the state and local government section of the American Association of Law Schools.
Her work focuses on how law and policy can create more equitable and sustainable communities. In June 2020, Bronin founded Desegregate Connecticut, a coalition that successfully advocated for statewide zoning reform admid national discussions on racial inequities. The coalition generated an interactive zoning atlas map, educates people on housing segregation and proposes policies to reform restrictive zoning.
Bronin has also written numerous books and articles on land use and historic preservation law, among other topics.
Prof. Jeffrey Chusid, department chair of city and regional planning, has worked with Bronin since she was an undergraduate at the University of Texas, where he taught her first historic preservation classes. He said Bronin’s expertise with both architecture and law uniquely prepare her to serve as a faculty member within city and regional planning.
“She’s just a very serious, very dedicated person who achieved a lot and has a really wonderful perspective as a Mexican-American woman from Texas,” Chusid told The Sun.
Bronin has an extensive background in public service, from serving on the board of the Latinos in Heritage Conservation, which promotes Latinos in the field of historic preservation, to acting as an adviser for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that works to preserve the nation’s historic treasures, and the Sustainable Development Code, which advocates for community development around the United States.
“I’ve always been passionate about historic places and I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve the country and use what I’ve learned to try to protect and rehabilitate places that people care about,” Bronin said.
Now, the Cornell community looks forward to learning in the classroom from her real-world experiences and expertise.
“It’s the combination in one person at a high level of all of this stuff that makes her so remarkable and will be inspiring to anybody at Cornell who comes in contact with her,” Chusid said.