David M. Simpson, Ph.D.

Fifth Third Bank Professor of Community Development Director, Master of Urban Planning Program


Dr. Simpson holds the endowed chair, Fifth Third Bank Professor in Community Development, and serves as the Chair of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. At UofL since 1999, Dr. Simpson has been active in the region for planning and sustainable development issues. Dr. Simpson was a founding faculty in the creation of UofL’s Master of Urban Planning degree (the only one offered in Kentucky), and as the director of the program, led it to national accreditation in 2009, and has since brought it to a national ranking (10th in the South Region and 23rd in the nation according to Planning Educators). Dr. Simpson has directed the Center for Hazards Research since 2003, bringing in over $10 million dollars in external funding from NSF, FEMA, DHS, and other agencies and foundations. In 2012, Dr. Simpson was named as the Chair of the University’s Sustainability Council. His most recent efforts have been directed toward the creation of undergraduate and graduate degrees in Sustainability. In addition to technology and physical planning, Dr. Simpson’s research interests focus on the interactions of society and hazards, looking at the idea of resiliency and sustainability as a fundamental part of hazards planning and mitigation. Dr. Simpson teaches doctoral research methods, environmental policy and natural hazards, and courses in the urban planning curriculum.

Dr. Simpson has been a “Quick Response” researcher for the National Science Foundation, responding with funded field research following the World Trade Center collapse, Hurricane Isabel on the Atlantic Coast, and two projects following Hurricane Katrina. He has worked closely with the State of Kentucky’s Emergency Management Division, working with them since 2003 to create and maintain the state’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, as well as mitigation plans for the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, and the KCTCS system.

From 2012 to 2014 Dr. Simpson served as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, while also continuing to serve as the Department Chair for Urban and Public Affairs. In 2011, Dr. Simpson received the A&S Dean’s Award for Outstanding Leadership as Department Chair.  Dr. Simpson has served on the National Academies of Science, Disaster Roundtable, and has been a Natural Hazards Research Fellow for the National Science Foundation.  In 2002, Dr. Simpson was recognized by AAAS as one of the “Next Generation of Leaders in Science and Technology.”  Dr. Simpson loves to travel, camp, and hike with his family, and remains active as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 701.