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In memoriam: John Browder, professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech and former associate dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies

September 27, 2017

John Browder

John Browder
John Browder, professor of urban affairs and planning and former associate dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, died Friday, Sept. 22.

John Olin Browder, professor of urban affairs and planning and former associate dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech died on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. He was 64.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1988, Browder established himself as one of the premier international researchers on campus. He was an international authority on land use change, urbanization, and regional development in the Brazilian Amazon, where he personally directed more than 20 research projects after his dissertation.

"John was dedicated to College of Architecture and Urban Studies' student success throughout his entire career, but in particular while serving as associate dean for academic affairs,” said Jack Davis, dean and Reynolds Metals Professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “His invaluable service and commitment to teaching, international research, and student success will forever be sorely missed."

Browder was principal investigator on 10 externally funded research projects totaling $870,000, including four National Science Foundation grants and projects supported by U.S. AID, NASA, the Center for Latin American Studies, the International Foundation, and the John and Teresa Heinz Charitable Foundation.

His published work included three books, 26 peer-reviewed articles, eight book chapters, and numerous technical reports. Browder was selected to be among six scholars worldwide to serve on the Academic Review Committee of the Inter-American Foundations — a testimony to his international reputation and stature as a Latin American scholar.

In 2008, he was honored with the university’s Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research.

Browder received his bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster, a master’s degree from The American University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Browder was diagnosed in 2015 with esophageal cancer, which he battled until his death last Friday.

He’s survived by his wife, Patricia Laurrell; daughter, Jayna M. Ratliff (TJ) of Radford; stepdaughter, Khara Coburn of Christiansburg; stepson, Lloyd Coburn of Lynchburg; and sisters, Catherine B. Morris (Randall) of Kansas City, Missouri, and Ann Browder of Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

A memorial service will be held at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Blacksburg Parks and Recreation Department, 615 Patrick Henry Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060, for a memorial bench in his memory or to a charity of your choice.

The full obituary is published on the McCoy Funeral Home website.

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