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The Road Half Traveled

University Engagement at a Crossroads

Rita Axelroth Hodges

Publication Year: 2012

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 Traveled provides a forward-thinking perspective on new horizons in university and community partnership.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

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...

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pp. xiii-xv

We did not know it then, but the development of this book owes a considerable debt to a brief opening in our nation’s politics, when it appeared that universities might be taken seriously as partners for rebuilding America’s communities. In the wake of President Barack Obama’s election, a group of over one hundred activists known as the “urban...

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pp. xvii-xxvii

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...

Part 1. The Past and Present of University Engagement

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Chapter 1. Brief History of Universities, Community Partnerships, and Economic Development

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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...

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Chapter 2. Three Strategies of Anchor-Based Community Development

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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...

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Chapter 3. Higher Education Approaches to Urban Issues

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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...

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Chapter 4. Addressing the Challenges

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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...

Part 2. Case Studies

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Chapter 5. University as Facilitator: IUPUI, Portland State, and Miami Dade College

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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...

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Chapter 6. University as Leader: Penn, Cincinnati, and Yale

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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...

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Chapter 7. University as Convener: Syracuse, Minnesota, LeMoyne-Owen, and Emory

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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...

Part 3. Best Practices

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Chapter 8. Promising Practices and Lessons Learned

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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...

Part 4. Envisioning the Road to Be Taken: Realizing the Anchor Institution Mission

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Chapter 9. Building Internal Constituencies for Partnership Work

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pp. 147-152

In the fall 2009 issue of The 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...

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Chapter 10. Catalyzing Change with Philanthropy

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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...

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Chapter 11. Policy Support for the Anchor Institution Mission

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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...

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Conclusion. Thinking Forward

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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...

Appendix 1. Budget Documents from Anchor Institutions Task Force

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pp. 171-176

Appendix 2. Interview Subjects and Contributors

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pp. 177-186

Appendix 3. Additional Resources

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pp. 187-188

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pp. 189-192

Research for The Road Half Traveled began early in 2009, but this study has a much longer gestation. The Democracy Collaborative was founded in 2000 by a group of scholars at the University of Maryland, College Park, who saw the need for a center that could promote engaged scholarship that linked research to democratic practice. Maryland itself is a land-grant university, so the Collaborative...


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pp. 193-224


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pp. 225-237

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173401
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860467

Publication Year: 2012