Roger Kemp, ICMA-CM
When proactive town-gown practices are used, everyone benefits—public and school officials, as well as residents and students.
27 March 2014
I’ve always had an interest in what is commonly referred to as town-gown relations: How officials in communities and schools relate to one another, and how they work with residents and students to resolve issues before they become problems. There are also mutually advantageous opportunities to work together on joint projects and programs.
Everyone benefits—public and school officials, as well as residents and students—when proactive town-gown practices are used. A national literature search that I conducted in this field revealed numerous state-of-the-art leading practices. Case studies came from joint projects and programs being undertaken by local governments and schools throughout the United States and Canada.
Here is a list of the evolving and dynamic town-gown leading practices:
There are multiple opportunities for communities and the colleges and universities located within them to jointly participate in these mutually advantageous town-gown programs and projects. These positive practices, which are rapidly evolving, reflect joint efforts where everyone benefits, including residents, students, and public and school officials who consider and approve recommendations.
In the past, town-gown officials have had misunderstandings based on different loyalties and priorities and the fact that they have separate governing bodies. Over the years, few mutual discussions were held between public and school officials or with residents and students. Times are changing now, however, and town-gown officials are increasingly working together for the benefit of the groups they represent.
Town-gown officials increasingly recognize the positive impacts that the academic community has on their local government and the value of the public services provided to the campus by the government. These benefits include joint employment opportunities; payments for services; mutual city-school projects, programs, and services; and a knowledge of the other revenues and taxes generated by all schools located within a local government’s boundaries.
Here is how these evolving town-gown programs and services are a benefit:
This field is dynamic and additional leading practices will no doubt be analyzed, approved, initiated, and reported on during the coming years.
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