The Planner

Robert Clossin ’95

Robert Clossin '95
Robert Clossin ’95 holds a planning diagram for a new “front door” to UC San Diego, featuring the Pepper Canyon Light Rail Transit Station and the Design and Innovation Building (now under construction) as well as the future Pepper Canyon Amphitheater.

When Robert Clossin came back to work on campus, his first project was the construction of Regents parking lot. What he’s working on now may well make such a thing obsolete. “We’re always thinking about the future,” he says. “We think about where will we be 20, even 50 years from now, with not just the light rail coming but the advances in ridesharing and driverless cars, the needs of future students and community partners—we take all this and more into account when mapping out the future.”

Now as director of campus planning, Clossin has a unique perspective on how the campus has evolved from his classroom days. “I was a commuter student here,” he says, “at a time when there was little as far as student life. The student experience now is amazing to me, and it reinforces the work we do in creating a campus that is truly coming to life.”

Clossin initially had sights set on architecture at Warren College. But the decision to go into urban studies and planning expanded his horizons in ways he had never considered. “The education I received at UC San Diego was very broad and theoretical—exactly the perspective you have to have as a planner.”

You also need a lot of patience—take the light rail, for instance: “We’ve been planning for it since my first day, over two decades ago,” he says. “It’s gone through countless concepts and iterations: Where does it go? Can we build tunnels? Who will it impact and how? After years upon years of discussions and meetings, it’s amazing to see it happening.”

Today, campus is about 70 percent built out, with more projects on the horizon.
“I’ll often hear, ‘You’re not going to recognize the campus,’” he says. “But my goal is to enhance the campus, and make it even more recognizable as UC San Diego—a cutting-edge institution with the access, facilities and service it deserves.”