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The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads

Rita Axelroth Hodges
Steve Dubb
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    The Road Half Traveled
    Book Description:

    A growing number of universities are dedicating resources to support their surrounding communities, but much potential for advancement remains. A university's mission as an "anchor institution," as defined by the authors, is to consciously and strategically apply the institution's long-term, place-based economic power, in combination with its human and intellectual resources, to better the welfare of the community in which it resides. Drawing on ten diverse universities as case studies, this eye-opening book explores practices and strategies that can be employed to improve conditions in low-income communities and emphasizes the critical roles of university leaders, philanthropy, and policy in this process. To date the most comprehensive account of the range of roles played by universities as anchors in their communities,The Road Half Traveledprovides a forward-thinking perspective on new horizons in university and community partnership.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-340-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Charles Rutheiser

    Several years ago, I was conducting ethnographic research in a neighborhood adjacent to a large urban university. While interviewing a community leader, I referred to the university as an “anchor institution.” The woman looked puzzled for a moment then smiled. “I guess that’s about right,” she said, “an anchor is something that gets dropped on people’s heads.” She and her fellow residents had valid grounds for cynicism. As was the case in many other poor neighborhoods located next to large universities in cities around the country, relations between her community and the university had been marked by decades of conflict,...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxviii)

    Universities and colleges, which simultaneously constitute preeminent international, national, and local institutions, potentially represent by far the most powerful partners, “anchors,” and creative catalysts for change and improvement in the quality of life in American cities and communities. For universities and colleges to fulfill their great potential and more effectively contribute to positive change in their communities, cities, and metropolitan areas, however, they will have to critically examine and change their organizational cultures and structures and embed civic engagement across all components of the institution.

    University are place-based institutions anchored within their communities, and they are increasingly recognized as key...


    • CHAPTER 1 Brief History of Universities, Community Partnerships, and Economic Development
      (pp. 3-10)

      Universities, in addition to their central role in education, play a critical economic development role. Nowhere has the connection between higher education and economic development been more clearly drawn than in the United States. This link was made explicit in 1862 when Congress passed the Morrill Act, establishing a system of land-grant colleges by allocating federal land to the states to support the establishment of public universities in each state. As James Collier of Virginia Tech notes, while the Morrill Act certainly served to expand access to university education, its “primary goal was to solidify the American economic infrastructure in...

    • CHAPTER 2 Three Strategies of Anchor-Based Community Development
      (pp. 11-16)

      A growing number of universities are engaged in anchor institution work, but not all anchor institution strategies seek to meet the same goals. As we noted briefly in the preceding chapter, in our site visits to ten campuses, we found three principal patterns that emerged among the institutions’ policies and practices—that is, three distinct approaches to anchor-based community development. Often “community engagement” is treated as a broad, catchall category that fails to consider important differences that may exist among universities. In our research, we have sought to advance the discussion of university-community partnerships to think more clearly about what...

    • CHAPTER 3 Higher Education Approaches to Urban Issues
      (pp. 17-26)

      In our site visits to the ten universities featured in this study, we chose to analyze six major areas in which urban colleges and universities have, in recent decades, sought to work in partnership to improve the welfare of their surrounding communities: (1) comprehensive neighborhood revitalization; (2) community economic development through corporate investment; (3) local capacity building; (4) public school and health partnerships; (5) academic engagement; and (6) multi-anchor, city, and regional partnerships.

      The higher education institutions chosen for this study demonstrate some of the most innovative and effective approaches to leveraging their resources as anchor institutions. In part, their...

    • CHAPTER 4 Addressing the Challenges
      (pp. 27-36)

      Colleges and universities that incorporate any, or all, of the forms of engagement just described face numerous challenges and critical decisions along the way. We briefly discuss several of these issues below: creating an engaged community; establishing partnership programs and goals; institutionalizing an anchor vision; securing funding and leveraging resources; building a culture of economic inclusion; sustaining participatory planning and robust community relationships; and, where the rubber hits the road, actually meeting at least some of the key needs of the low-income residents and neighborhoods who are partners in these efforts. These same issues will be explored further in each...


    • CHAPTER 5 University as Facilitator: IUPUI, Portland State, and Miami Dade College
      (pp. 39-62)

      The three universities reviewed in this chapter—Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Portland State University, and Miami Dade College—are all young, large, public institutions whose civic engagement missions emphasize educational opportunity. To this end, they seek to provide engaging, supportive learning environments for their students as well as the broader community. Service-learning, community-based research, and public school and health partnerships involve large numbers of faculty and students at all three institutions. Where, or with whom, these university members engage is not constricted by a strategic institutional agenda. Instead, they are seen as “good neighbors,” responding to a wide variety...

    • CHAPTER 6 University as Leader: Penn, Cincinnati, and Yale
      (pp. 63-88)

      The community partnership efforts of the three universities reviewed in this chapter—the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), the University of Cincinnati, and Yale University—are marked by four key factors: (1) each has enjoyed strong institutional leadership that has made community engagement a continued top priority; (2) each of the campuses is adjacent to at least one low-income neighborhood with a high percentage of African American residents; (3) each of their efforts evolved in large measure in response to threatening conditions in the areas surrounding campus—in Cincinnati, general neighborhood deterioration and crime helped move the university toward greater engagement,...

    • CHAPTER 7 University as Convener: Syracuse, Minnesota, LeMoyne-Owen, and Emory
      (pp. 89-114)

      The four schools reviewed in this chapter—Syracuse University; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; LeMoyne-Owen College; and Emory University—are marked by their strategic choice to engage in collaborative community development efforts. Not faced with an immediate safety threat (as were Penn, Cincinnati, and Yale), but still embracing the service component of their institutional mission, these schools have had greater flexibility to focus partnerships and resources on the broader community. With a vision of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization, the institutions described here have chosen to adopt a place based strategy as a part of a larger community engagement agenda, focusing resources...


    • CHAPTER 8 Promising Practices and Lessons Learned
      (pp. 117-144)

      The literature on university-community partnerships is extensive. We are hardly the first to highlight best practices. For example, Dwight Giles and John Saltmarsh of the University of Massachusetts–Boston, along with coauthor Lorilee Sandmann of the University of Georgia, identify five key best practices that they found among the initial group of seventy-six colleges and universities qualifying for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s community engagement classification in 2006. In particular, Giles, Saltmarsh, and Sandmann emphasize the importance of (1) executive leadership, including by key faculty members, backed by supportive infrastructure; (2) purposeful advancement strategies (i.e., sustaining work...


    • CHAPTER 9 Building Internal Constituencies for Partnership Work
      (pp. 147-152)

      In the fall 2009 issue ofThe Presidency,a journal of the American Council on Education, Chancellor Nancy Cantor of Syracuse University implores her colleagues to heed the call of President Barack Obama that higher education work to address the needs of urban communities. Cantor contends that universities today could play a role for twenty-first-century urban America as important as that played by land-grant colleges for rural America following the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862.¹

      In calling for a “New Morrill Act,” Cantor posits, “One might think that a global financial crisis would be no time for college...

    • CHAPTER 10 Catalyzing Change with Philanthropy
      (pp. 153-158)

      The impact an integrated higher education anchor strategy might achieve over time cannot properly be gauged by focusing on academic institutions alone. A key matter is the nexus of funders, local and state governments, and the federal government, and how these groups can provide new incentives and motivations for higher education to engage in community building and economic development work. A summary of some of the key ways philanthropy can promote anchor institution strategies at universities is set forth in figure 29.

      In our case studies, we have focused primarily on theinternaldynamics that have led to the development...

    • CHAPTER 11 Policy Support for the Anchor Institution Mission
      (pp. 159-164)

      We believe that by engaging their resources fully, strategically, and collaboratively, universities can improve the quality of life in their local communities and build opportunities for individual and community wealth. We also believe that universities that respond to the broader economic needs of society may gain significant public support. As Henry Taylor puts it, “It’s an inside-outside game. First, we need to make sure [government] understands the types of things the university is capable of doing . . . Then, they can put incentives into place to help universities move [further] in this direction.”¹

      As described throughout this book, a...

  11. CONCLUSION. Thinking Forward
    (pp. 165-170)

    In 1990, former president of Harvard University Derek Bok wrote, “In the constant interplay between universities and the outside world, neither side has done a satisfactory job of promoting the nation’s long-term interests. University leaders have not worked sufficiently hard to bring their institutions to attend to our most important national problems. At the same time, neither trustees, nor the professors, nor foundation officers nor public officials, nor anyone else concerned with higher education has done enough to urge universities to make greater efforts along these lines or to help them mobilize resources sufficient for the task. There is good...

  12. APPENDIX 1. Budget Documents from Anchor Institutions Task Force
    (pp. 171-176)
  13. APPENDIX 2. Interview Subjects and Contributors
    (pp. 177-186)
  14. APPENDIX 3. Additional Resources
    (pp. 187-188)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 189-192)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 193-224)
  17. Index
    (pp. 225-237)