Message from the President

H. James Brown, July 1, 2003

As we complete one academic year and plan for the next, I am impressed by the richness and multidimensional nature of the Lincoln Institute’s educational programs. We have developed a strong curriculum in two departments and in our Program on Latin America and the Caribbean. Most of our planning efforts for 2003-2004 are focused on consolidating and improving what we have established, but I thought it might be instructive to discuss some new initiatives that illustrate our forward thinking. The program is described fully in the Institute’s catalog, which will be available by late summer (see page 4).

There are a couple of new efforts in the Department of Planning and Development that I find especially exciting. The first involves documenting the relationship between land price changes and problems associated with providing affordable housing, and then using that research in a variety of educational programs to explore the effectiveness of policies to improve housing affordability. The second effort seeks to develop links among several one-day courses so they can be consolidated into longer, richer experiences for both faculty and participants.

We have offered a basic curriculum in the Department of Valuation and Taxation for several years, and we are continuing to enhance the program by developing additional second-level courses to supplement the introductory offerings. One such course will help participants develop the statistical and economic skills necessary for using mass appraisal techniques to measure land value, as part of our two-rate tax program.

The faculty, participants and Lincoln staff have been so enthusiastic about the week-long seminars offered at Lincoln House for our Latin American colleagues that for next year we are scheduling some refresher courses in Latin America for former participants, as well as some short introductory sessions for those who would like some orientation before attending the full-length courses in Cambridge.

Finally, everyone on our staff is trying to find ways to use the new technology to improve our effectiveness in getting information to those who need it. Over the past year our website has been redesigned and enhanced to provide easy access to information about courses, publications and other educational products, as well as online ordering options. In addition we now have more than 330 working papers and more than 350 Land Lines articles in English and Spanish that can be downloaded quickly from our website. Our Planning Fundamentals course for local planning and zoning board members is available on the web, and companion versions have been modified to fit the special circumstances of Vermont and Montana. We are also investigating other ways to use technology to help participants prepare for our face-to-face courses, to interact after attending courses, and to provide course materials for those who are unable to attend the course sessions.

I am proud of the many ways the Institute is providing assistance to practitioners, professionals and others involved in land and tax policy so they can do their jobs better. If you have ideas about other things we can and should be doing, please let us know.