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Jim Lents to Lead Blakely Center

UC Riverside Names New Director on Suburban Development Issues

James Lents Brings Air Quality Expertise to UC Riverside’s Blakely Center on Sustainable Suburban Development

(September 15, 2003)

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James Lents

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- A noted air quality expert, James M. Lents, has been named director of the Edward J. Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, a think tank at UC Riverside on issues such as traffic, urban planning and air quality.

“This kind of hands-on leader is exactly what the center needs to start making a difference in the policies of the Inland region of Southern California,” said UCR Executive Vice Chancellor William Jury as he announced the appointment Monday. The Center was created earlier this year with a gift of $2 million by Ali Sahabi, president of SE Corp.

Lents, who spent 12 years as the Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said he looks forward to the new challenge of establishing an international-quality research institution. “The issues of suburbanization resonate around the world these days and we will be at the center of those issues,” Lents said. “We plan to be a research institution deeply involved in local issues, able to bring developers, planners, political leaders and environmental groups to the table to foster better planning decisions for this region.”

Lents is presently a director at UC Riverside’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT). He has been actively involved in research related to the development of air quality management plans, emissions analysis, environmental sustainability and global warming, and market based regulatory approaches at the national and international level.
His career directing air quality improvement programs has taken him across the nation and around the world. Before his work in the inland region, he spent eight years as Director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Program and eight years as Director of the Chattanooga Air Pollution Control Bureau.

His experience includes groundbreaking work in defining the emissions inventory development, modeling, and emissions control process for polluted cities.
He has earned the Air and Waste Management Associations Smith-Griswold Award, the Swedish Academy of Science/WASA International Environmental Achievement Award, the American Lung Association Annual Environmental Award, the Public Health Officers Association Annual Environmental Award, and the Clean Air Coalition Annual Air Quality Award. Dr. Lents has reviewed and worked on environmental improvement programs for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Mexico City, Mexico; Taipei, Taiwan; Beijing and Guangzhou, China; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Nairobi, Kenya; and Cape Town and Durban, South Africa at the invitation of the respective countries.

Lents' research experience includes work on emerging technologies, distributed generation, emissions from motor vehicles, motor vehicle fuels, waste handling, and combustion processes and measurement of air pollutants from jet engines and coal-fired electrical generation processes. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Tennessee in 1970.

Lents succeeds Gary Dymski as head of the Center. The Office of the President of the University of California system appointed Dymski to head a new program in Sacramento to provide students from all UC campuses with greater opportunities for internships, research and other learning opportunities at the state capitol.

The Blakely Center was established earlier this year with a $2 million gift from Ali Sahabi, president of SE Corporation, which is developing the Dos Lagos project in southern Corona. The project is planned to combine residential, recreational, hotel, retail and industrial uses.

Sahabi’s gift enabled the Center to be named after Blakely, his mentor at the University of Southern California and now the dean of the Robert Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School University in New York City.

Blakely is a San Bernardino native and a 1960 graduate of UCR, where he quarterbacked the football team to an undefeated season. He has previously served as Dean of the School of Urban Planning and Development at USC and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California Berkeley.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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