Is Your College A Good Neighbor?

A unique partnership between Indiana University and Purdue University (IUPUI) has benefited the Indianapolis community. IUPUI is #5 on Dr. Dobelles good neighbor list.

A unique partnership between Indiana University and Purdue University (IUPUI) has benefited the Indianapolis community. IUPUI is #5 on Dr. Dobelle's "good neighbor" list.

People who live in university towns usually understand the impact that these schools have on their communities. For some towns the university is it – the largest employer and most significant contributor to the community’s well being.

College towns offer residents a number of important ancillary benefits too: many allow residents to use their facilities at a greatly reduced cost or for free. Clearly, these communities have benefited tremendously thanks to the presence of one or more higher education institutions within their borders.

2009 Saviors Survey

Dr. Evan Dobelle, current president of Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts, first published his “Saviors of Our Cities:  A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships” list in 2006 recognizing twenty-five colleges and universities for their contribution to their communities. On Monday, Dr. Dobelle released his most recent survey along with his remarks.

The list’s twenty-five academic institutions were chosen due to “their positive impact on their urban communities, including both commercial and residential activities such as revitalization, cultural renewal, economics, and community service and development.” Additionally, one hundred other institutions were recognized on an Honor Roll.

Academia Helps Communities

“Colleges and universities, as well as the towns and cities in which they are located, are now under severe economic pressures. The positive financial impact of higher education on local communities is well-documented,” said Dr. Dobelle. “Increasingly,” he said, “more sophisticated partnerships are emerging that are addressing complex issues such as homelessness and health care and are serving as catalysts for community change. Colleges and universities are doing more and more to support their local communities, and it is a win-win situation for both.”

Taking a jab at the spending habits of our federal officials Dr. Dobelle noted, “It’s regrettable that with almost a trillion dollars in bailout or stimulus money that more of these funds are not being invested in projects sponsored by campus-based civic engagement initiatives. Projects don’t come much more turn-key than those in the higher education-community alliance sphere.”

The Top 25

The top academic institutions for 2009 are as follows:

1.  University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

2.  University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA

3.  University of Dayton – Dayton, OH

4.  University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA

5.  Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN

6.  Creighton University – Omaha, NE

7.  Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, OH

8.  Tulane University – New Orleans, LA

9.  Portland State University – Portland, OR

10. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA

11. Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, VA

12. University of Louisville – Louisville, KY

13. University of Rochester – Rochester, NY

14. University of Houston – Houston, TX

15. University of Missouri at Kansas City – Kansas City, MO

16. University of Missouri at St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

17. Emory University – Atlanta, GA

18. University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee – Milwaukee, WI

19. Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, PA

20. Rhode Island School of Design – Providence, RI

21. Miami-Dade College – Miami

22. St. Louis University – St. Louis, MO

23. Rutgers-Newark, State University of New Jersey – Newark, NJ

24. George Washington University – Washington, DC

25. University of Nebraska-Omaha – Omaha, NE

Dobelle’s survey looks at several different kinds of contributions schools make to their communities including urban renewal, local school partnerships, real dollars invested and more. Visit Westfield’s website for detailed information about the survey as well as a glimpse at who made his honor roll.

Source: Westfield State College

Pictured: Altered Wikipedia file photo of the IUPUI library.

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