Sweeney memoriam

Sweeney remembered as a longtime steady, kind presence in Aggie urban planning

Donald Sweeney, ’66, a leading figure in urban planning education and administration at Texas A&M for almost 40 years, passed away June 17, 2022. He was 77.

“He was a constant, calming presence in our urban planning program,” said Shannon Van Zandt, executive associate dean of the Texas A&M School of Architecture. “He served wherever needed, whenever needed. He was gentle, soft-spoken, and wise. I will miss his wisdom and institutional knowledge, and most of all, his kindness,” said Van Zandt, who previously served as the head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning

Sweeney, who joined the Aggie faculty in 1972 and retired at the end of the spring 2011 semester, was a kind and considerate colleague, said Walter Gillis Peacock, professor of urban planning and holder of the Sandy and Bryan Mitchell Master Builder Chair. 

“He did what was necessary to make the place and those around him better whether they were faculty, students or staff,” said Peacock.

Sweeney, the first coordinator of Texas A&M’s Bachelor of Science in Urban & Regional Planning program, which began in the fall 2007 semester, retired as an associate professor in health systems planning in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and an associate professor in the School of Public Health.

He had many leadership roles at Texas A&M, including a 1985-87 term as interim dean of the College of Architecture and a 1985-88 post as head of the former Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Sweeney’s professional and research interests included all aspects of health systems policy, planning and management. He consulted with communities, public agencies, major corporations and health/human service organizations to address organizational learning, transformational leadership, corporate transformation, visioning and strategic planning.

He was the first chairman of Healthy Texas Communities, a statewide forum for individuals, organizations, agencies and communities interested in building healthier places to live.

Born July 2, 1944 to John and Doris Sweeney, he graduated from Comfort High School in 1962.

Sweeney then earned three degrees at Texas A&M: a Ph.D. in Environmental Design in 1972, a Master of Architecture degree in 1968 and a Bachelor of Arts in English degree in 1967.

A funeral service is scheduled at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 23, in the A&M Church of Christ in College Station.

Sweeney is survived by his wife, Ruth Ann (Wiley) Sweeney, who he married on Sept. 2, 1966.

He is also survived by his children, Bobbie Jayne Spencer, Elizabeth (Sweeney) Collins, and Samuel Woodroof Sweeney; his grandchildren, Diana (Spencer) Nelson, Lori Spencer, Noah Collins, Trevor Sweeney, and Tara Sweeney; his brothers, John Sweeney and Zachary Sweeney; his sisters, Ellen (Sweeney) Collie, and Sherry (Sweeney) Dreyling; four great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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