Newswise — Many urban universities must develop their neighborhoods as well as their campuses to create good environments for learning, working and living, according to a book co-edited by University of Illinois at Chicago professor David Perry.
Perry, director of UIC's Great Cities Institute, edited "The University as Urban Developer" with Wim Wiewel, former dean of UIC's College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. The book comprises 30 professors' research, with teams studying cases in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Denver, St. Louis, Toronto and other cities.
In the book, the researchers maintain that development is critical because campus environments offer a competitive edge for a university.
"Student numbers are at or near all-time highs," Perry and Wiewel write, "and the expectation on universities to provide housing, social activities, and support services continues to grow. Over time these projects can have a significant effect on the neighborhoods surrounding the campus."
Perry said campuses grow successfully only with support from nearby neighborhoods. That support, in turn, relies less on available land or neighborhood conditions than on a history of cooperation between university and community.
"Good community relations are cyclical," Perry said. "It takes work and time to maintain them. The players change over time, and there's a learning curve on both sides."
The researchers believe that as corporations leave cities, urban universities gain power as economic and civic forces, and thus, are more responsible to work with their communities.
Among the findings in the book:
--Urban universities develop real estate primarily to gain space for core activities, secondarily to make their neighborhoods safer and more prosperous, and rarely to supplement their incomes or endowments.
--University projects take more time than commercial projects because they have more stakeholders, and because their stakeholders expect more from a university than from a corporation.
--Private developers seldom play a leading role in campus growth.
--Relations with city governments are task-oriented and subject to political and personal vagaries.
--Financing is slow because of reliance on philanthropic or public sources.
--Non-traditional financing options are available.
Perry espouses a European approach to university-community interaction and development.
"In Europe, universities have been an integral part of their cities as well as their national political and economic systems," he said. "And there are very different traditions in urban planning and citizen participation."
UIC ranks among the nation's top 50 universities in federal research funding and is Chicago's largest university with 25,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit http://www.uic.edu.