Maurice Cox

MMaurice Coxaurice D. Cox AR'83 was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and confirmed by the City Council  on October 16, 2019.

Celebrated for his experience merging architecture, design and politics through multiple public, private and elected positions, Cox is responsible for leading DPD's economic development, planning and zoning functions while fostering community-improvement initiatives throughout the city. His primary focus is under-invested neighborhoods on the South and West sides.

In his previous capacity as director of planning and development for the City of Detroit, Cox created a new, resident-centered planning and development department and led innovative urban planning and revitalization strategies that championed the equitable redevelopment of neighborhoods that fostered population growth and new mixed-use, mixed-income investment.

Cox was formerly the design director of the National Endowment of the Arts under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, where he represented the federal government for architecture and design matters and served as an advisor to more than 120 mayors on urban design issues.

He also served as mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2002 and 2004, following six years as a City Councilor. As an elected official, Cox implemented numerous community visioning processes and strategic planning initiatives that resulted in Charlottesville’s consistently high ranking as one of the most livable cities in the United States, as well as the smallest city in the country to maintain a AAA-bond rating for excellence in fiscal management. He also chaired the city's Housing and Development Authority Commission, Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, and Mayor’s Taskforce on Urban Housing Policy.

Cox is a former professor at Syracuse University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; a former associate dean for community engagement at Tulane University; and former director of the Tulane City Center in New Orleans. He also practiced architecture for ten years in Florence, Italy, where he met his wife and raised their two children.

Cox has been named by Design Intelligence as one of the "most admired design educators in America" and by Fast Company magazine as one of “20 Masters of Design” in the United States.

A native of Brooklyn, he has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union and an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. 

Role: Trustee
Elected to the Board: December 2021
Class Term: 2025
Term Limit: 2029

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.