A call for university and community partnerships

When the institution behind the gate isn’t engaged with the community outside it, both suffer.

In the mid ’90s, after a slew of headline-grabbing violent crimes on or near elite university campuses, administrators at these schools — most notably Yale and the University of Pennsylvania — finally began to grasp what activists had long preached: A college must be a force for positive change in its surrounding community.

Over the last 20 years, many urban schools have developed a new, expansive view of their role in the community. But has this shift — in both attitudes and resources — actually helped the people living in these areas?

Yes and no, says a new study, “The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads,” recently released by Michigan State University Press.

“Universities are fundamentally rooted in their community. And they have a lot of resources. They’re the biggest employers and biggest construction builders in most metropolitan areas. They can have a huge impact when they focus their resources locally,” says co-author Rita Axelroth Hodges, who is now assistant director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. “But all of this work takes a lot of time and thought and relationship building. The community needs to be engaged from the beginning. It needs to be mutually beneficial.”

“Half Traveled” looks at the community initiatives of 10 colleges nationwide. It is unclear to what extent, but the researchers found at least some of this new investment has actually displaced residents near these campuses.

“It’s a burning question for many of us in this field: What is the true impact on the long-term residents in these communities?” says Hodges. “What we unfortunately found [in this study] is that the measurements of that are not being followed as closely as they should be. We certainly have plenty of anecdotal stories of ways that it’s gone both good and bad, but we need to follow up.”


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox


2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch


2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.


2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.