Universities Reconnect with Cities

<p>Universities across the country are reviving their connections to their host cities, participating in urban renewal projects and investing in their cities' futures.</p>
March 11, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Universities are undergoing a cultural shift as institutions stop acting like enclaves, reconnect with communities and in the process acknowledge and promote the ability to drive urban development."

"'It's a movement that sees a university as a wholly vested urban institution,' said David Perry, director of the Great Cities Institute and professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago."

"Perry said universities have historically had a connection to cities, a link that continues today as 81 percent of expenditures by colleges occur in urban cores. That amounted to $136 billion to $174 billion in 1996 dollars."

"The intellectual connection, however, eroded over time, as evidenced by the language of academia, Perry said. Universities provided 'outreach' and 'extension services' to talk to the community and viewed cities as 'laboratories' or 'experiments.'"

"Those words and the attitude behind them are disappearing."

"For example, Morehouse College in Atlanta shed its insular ways to work with the city to help rebuild surrounding neighborhoods."

"Georgia Tech, which is also in Atlanta, propped up a struggling part of downtown by partnering with private businesses to erect two buildings. One houses traditional university functions while the second is used for research and development conducted by private businesses matched with university researchers."

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Published on Monday, March 10, 2008 in The Columbian
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