Teaming Up for Smart Growth
Include neighboring communities in multipurpose capital projects and strengthen town-gown bonds.
By Karla Hignite
That’s not to say the process to obtain public input and approval for proposed projects isn’t messy or complicated or doesn’t require extreme levels of leadership endurance. Yet, as the institutions interviewed for this article can attest, efforts to be viewed not only as a good neighbor but as an essential part of the neighborhood ultimately make an institution a destination of choice for students, faculty, and staff.
Reclaiming the Streets: Trinity College
A strong community partnership has been nurtured for nearly 30 years at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, thanks to the leadership of its presidents. Decisions to make deep financial investments in community revitalization initially were motivated by necessity. By the late 1980s, the neighborhoods surrounding Trinity had deteriorated to a point where local gang activity was becoming commonplace, notes Luis Caban, executive director of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA), of which Trinity is a founding member. Parents and university leaders alike grew worried about the well-being of students. The college was not alone in its concern; Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, SINA’s other two partners, feared for the safety of their employees and patients.
In addition to clearing out the gangs, the most immediate needs identified by community leaders for restoring health to the neighborhood were stabilizing home ownership, adding a middle school, and creating more recreational opportunities for children and teens. SINA has since spearheaded a number of projects in cooperation with other community partners to help “fill in the blanks,” says Caban.
The group’s signature project, the Learning Corridor, is a 16-acre site adjacent to Trinity’s campus that serves more than 1,500 children and teens from prekindergarten through high school. Included are a Montessori school and teacher training center, a middle school, and two high school academies, one for the performing arts and one for math and science. Trinity invested nearly $6 million from its endowment to help launch the initiative. Other SINA partners rounded up the contribution to $10 million, which supplemented nearly $95 million provided by the state. While the Learning Corridor is owned by the city, it is run by a regional education consortium of which Trinity is a financial partner. The college contributes $230,000 annually to SINA for ongoing operations of the Learning Corridor and has been a major financial contributor to the Boys and Girls Club located on the Learning Corridor campus.
“Having the Learning Corridor right next door has afforded Trinity’s faculty and students untold opportunities to develop academic collaborations and to participate in service learning projects,” says Elinor Jacobson, associate director of Trinity’s Urban Engagements program. The most recent addition to the neighborhood is the Koeppel Community Sports Center, a $15.5 million hockey arena that opened in December 2006. Jason Rojas, Trinity’s director of community relations, points out that while the facility fills an athletic programming need for the college, it is also open to residents and community groups for use: To date, more than 1,500 children have taken part in learn-to-skate programs.
Trinity’s new Center for Urban and Global Studies hopes to expand the mission of the college beyond local bounds. Xiangming Chen is dean and director of the center, which has also become the umbrella for coordinating and integrating many of Trinity’s town-gown programs and for creating synergy and links among them. “The goal of the center is to eventually build on the variety of our Hartford-based urban and community programs and activities and to broaden our understanding and connections to other world urban centers,” says Chen.
When SINA was established in the late 1970s, its focus was primarily social service–oriented programming, explains Caban. “The partners had not historically engaged in any efforts to physically revitalize the community, but after recognizing the need to stabilize the residential population, members decided it was time to lead some brick-and-mortar redevelopment,” Caban says. Initial efforts were focused on building homes that included financial incentives to encourage homebuyers to live in those homes for at least 15 years. SINA has since built more than 50 single-family homes. Today, the alliance’s real-estate development efforts are also focusing on rehabilitation of rental properties to maintain the mixed-income characteristic of the community.
Like many urban campuses, Trinity is landlocked. Over the years, the college’s philosophy has become one of investing in its community as part of its campus, says Caban. “Leadership of Trinity has been a key in setting the direction for our commitments to develop initiatives with the community as opposed to for the community,” he says. Trinity’s Rojas concurs: “Through all these efforts we have come to recognize that a big part of what ultimately defines Trinity and differentiates us from our peers is that we are a liberal arts college in the city.”
Maximizing a Dream Come True: Columbia University
With every available space programmed for use, Columbia University has long since outgrown its existing densely built New York City campus. By the university’s estimates, the institution has far less usable space per student than any of its peer research institutions—in many cases as little as one third. While universal agreement has existed for years regarding the need for the university to expand beyond its constricted boundaries, institution leaders wanted to move away from the kind of ad hoc growth that in the past had led to ongoing debates with the local community over each new building project, says La-Verna Fountain, Columbia’s associate vice president for public affairs.
After reviewing potential sites for expansion, the most obvious choice became apparent just north of Columbia’s historic Morningside campus, where the institution moved from midtown Manhattan in 1897. An underutilized industrial area consisting primarily of warehouses, storage facilities, parking lots, gas stations, and auto repair shops could be rezoned from manufacturing to mixed use and allow for the university’s growth. The 17-acre plot, encompassing primarily four large city blocks, would enable Columbia to build its future within the heart of its West Harlem community.
From the outset of Columbia’s proposed expansion planning efforts, university leaders recognized the need to work closely with the community. Hundreds of meetings and consultations were held with local civic groups, residents, business leaders, and elected representatives. “Along the way, we adjusted our plan in response to community concerns—from maintaining the street grid to ensuring the accessibility of publicly available open space—and changing building usage and heights in order to be more consistent with the surrounding community,” says Fountain.
|Smart Growth: The Broader View|
Matthew Dalbey, a planner with the Smart Growth program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., is in the business of helping communities and institutions improve the environmental outcomes associated with their projects by encouraging smarter approaches to growth. Such approaches include repurposing vacant or underused properties, mixing uses within buildings and districts, and promoting options that allow people to get around without relying on personal vehicles.
In Dalbey’s opinion, the initial impetus behind any building project should not be to achieve sustainability, but rather to figure out how using better development practices will help an institution achieve its mission. “Smart growth approaches can allow institutions to create thriving, vibrant places, use their resources more efficiently, and interact better with their neighbors, while at the same time improving their environmental performance.” When green building practices, more efficient energy use, and other sustainability techniques are coupled with smart growth approaches to development, the institution’s mission is more likely to be served, says Dalbey.
Getting past the “P” word. Consider a challenge common to all institutions: parking. An institution can never seem to provide enough spaces for all who want them, notes Dalbey. “If you step back, you may see that rather than a parking problem, what you’re really dealing with are transportation and housing challenges. Are students asking for more parking spaces because they don’t want to or don’t have access to live near campus? Perhaps what the institution really needs is more options for students and faculty and staff to live within a walkable distance or to have transit options that make driving to campus unnecessary,” asserts Dalbey. Viewed in this light, an institution’s parking problem shifts to a development opportunity.
Solutions that meet multiple campus objectives provide beneficial outcomes that further compound when the overlapping challenges and concerns of neighboring communities are considered, Dalbey argues. “It should be no surprise to institution leaders that most communities are in fact interested in what takes place on an institution’s campus and in what ways the institution sees itself growing during the next 30 years,” he says.
Seeking mutuality. Relationships between higher education institutions and community stakeholders need not be adversarial when both sides clearly understand the mutual benefits, Dalbey observes. Increasingly, elected leaders and business and civic organizations have come to understand that colleges and universities are huge drivers of economic health. Unlike companies and firms that may be quick to move their operations, higher education institutions tend to stay in place and draw consistent dollars into their local and regional economies, notes Dalbey. On the flip side, institutions have come to recognize that good relations with community constituents can significantly improve the odds of getting development proposals to move forward, especially if proposed initiatives are seen as fulfilling larger community needs and opportunities.
From a financing standpoint, today’s economic and state budget realities are such that all institutions are looking for innovative ways to finance capital projects, and new kinds of financial partnerships and projects allow for opportunities to benefit many more users, Dalbey says. For instance, an institution’s need for a new state-of-the-art science center could translate into a building that locates labs and classrooms on upper floors, leaving ground-floor space available to incorporate street-facing retail that benefits community residents as well as campus users. Inside, a large ground-floor lecture hall might double as performance space for public events and even generate revenue for the institution through renting the space to outside groups.
For Dalbey, one hallmark of successful smart growth is when college and university investments are leveraged to accomplish the institution’s primary mission while also enhancing the larger life of the community.
No Gates, No Walls
With the city council’s full approval to move forward, the new Manhattanville campus will provide an open environment without gates and walls. Every existing street will remain open, and ground-floor spaces will be reserved for retail, restaurants, and community-based activities. To accomplish this plan for pedestrian-friendly traffic, Columbia will locate heating and cooling equipment and parking, truck delivery, and related services underground.
According to Fountain, the campus development project will benefit the West Harlem community in multiple and significant ways. Included in the plan is a $20 million affordable housing fund to be leveraged by housing experts to preserve or maintain an estimated 1,100 affordable homes. Additionally, Columbia has committed to relocating and providing equal or better housing to those currently living in the 132 residential units within the zone. And, the institution will provide nearly 1,000 units for its own use to decrease the impact of university personnel seeking housing outside its 17-acre footprint.
Columbia’s commitment to maintaining open public spaces will include a new 6,300-square-foot park on property previously slated for development, playground and schoolyard enhancements, and more than $11 million over 25 years for site maintenance for a new waterfront park. The development will likewise promote a retail strategy that prioritizes local, nonchain, neighborhood-based businesses. A resource center will provide community members with information about the expansion, including available job and housing opportunities and community service programs.
From an environmental standpoint, all new construction of Columbia’s academic and residential projects will meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard for building materials, energy alternatives, and water recycling, says Fountain. The university is working with experts to develop a model approach to ensure clean construction for the proposed facilities, including applying the best available diesel emissions–control technologies to minimize air quality impacts. The university will also clean up residual waste from past decades of industrial use. Based on the institution’s commitments to smart urban growth and green building design, the U.S. Green Building Council has selected Columbia’s expansion plan for its new LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program, developed in partnership with the Center for New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Under the LEED-ND program, Columbia hopes to set the standard for future urban planning of sustainable neighborhoods.
“As a truly urban campus, Columbia is a central part of its community, not separate from it,” stresses Fountain. Nearly 30 percent of the university’s workforce, not including faculty, reside in upper Manhattan. “By our estimates, the expansion of university facilities, which will occur over the next quarter century, will produce more than 6.8 million square feet of space for teaching, research, and support services, while creating new facilities for civic, cultural, recreational, and commercial activity,” Fountain says. Additionally, as many as 6,000 new university jobs and 1,200 construction jobs will be created, many of which will support local or minority- or women-owned firms.
Education for a New Economy: Lansing Community College
If adult learners aren’t going to pick up and move to a university 100 miles away to complete a degree, how do you bring education to them? According to Stephanie Shanblatt, chief operating officer of University Center and Strategic Learning Partnerships at Lansing Community College, Michigan, one approach is based on a concept that is proving successful in her state.
The University Center at LCC, which opened its doors for enrollment in January 2008, is a partnership between the two-year college and six four-year universities offering select programs targeted to regional workforce needs. Combined, the partner institutions currently offer more than 30 bachelor’s degrees and several postbaccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees.
The center is located across the street from the main LCC campus on land owned by the college. Its construction required tearing down several older buildings to provide a combination of 40,000 square feet of new space and renovation of a 100-year-old Carnegie library. The center includes 16 classrooms, breakout rooms for project-based work, a computer lab, and office space for each of the partner institutions. A $5 million capital outlay received from the state covered almost half the total costs, with LCC investing the remaining $6 million to bring the project to completion.
The partnership learning model has been tested with success in two other locations in Michigan and stems from a report published by the state’s governor assessing K–12 transitions to higher education. In addition to increasing the number of high school graduates continuing to college, the university center model also provides more educational opportunities for adult residents. “Michigan is in the middle of the pack among states in degree completion. With our state undergoing dramatic transformation in terms of its economy and jobs that support that economy, one thing we all agree we need to do from an economic development standpoint is to get more individuals into postsecondary education and a significant portion of those to complete degrees,” Shanblatt says.
Know Your Community’s Needs
To identify partner institutions, LCC circulated an RFP for universities to join the center. “The process put the onus on universities to supply LCC with economic data on which programs they believed made sense to offer in the greater Lansing area,” says Shanblatt. LCC staff likewise scoured state data to identify job trends for the region. “We intentionally did not rely on anecdotal information from the community about the kinds of programs they wanted to see offered, since our primary goal is to provide programs that will lead to jobs for graduates,” explains Shanblatt.
In addition to employment opportunities in health care and information technology, growth areas for the region reflected by current data also include banking and insurance. “We will be looking to offer some focused programming in the future that will be more directly applicable to those industries rather than a more general business degree,” Shanblatt says.
Great care was taken in finalizing the selection of institutions and programs to avoid duplicate programs or competition among partner institutions for the same groups of students, notes Shanblatt. Of the three public and three independent partner institutions, one hails from as far as 2½ hours away. A few partner institutions were already offering some off-campus programming in the city and have since moved operations to the center. The other institutions are brand-new to the area, offering degrees that have never before been made available to the 300,000 residents of greater Lansing, Shanblatt says.
Paying Attention to Partners
The college has likewise taken great care to meet the needs of the center’s partner institutions. Because these institutions were selected before construction began, LCC staff held monthly meetings with its partners for nearly a year before they moved in. “We ended up redesigning the space in response to their needs,” Shanblatt says. While the original design called for large open cubicles, the developer incorporated floor-to-ceiling partitions with locking doors to give each institution its own private space. Each partner decorated with its school colors to create a sense of identity within the center.
In the same way that partner institutions do not compete for students, they also do not compete with LCC, since they offer only junior- and senior-level courses at the center. In fact, says Shanblatt, LCC stands to add to its 20,000 enrollments per semester with registrations from individuals who have some college credits but may need to take several courses to fill in requirement gaps before they can transfer to a program with one of the partner institutions.
With a target of enrolling 1,000 students when the center opened its doors in January, Shanblatt was thrilled to have a 1,200 head count. While the initial focus has been to enroll adult learners, center staff are gearing up to market to high school seniors. “It will take some time to get the word out to this group of prospective students that they now have a pathway to a variety of degree programs without leaving the area,” says Shanblatt. All degree programs offered at the University Center can be completed on site. Many degree programs also offer a 3+1 option, allowing students to attend the first three years at LCC and a final year at the center.
Another way in which residents benefit is the convenience of the center on LCC’s campus, located in the heart of the downtown area and only a few blocks from the state capitol. Shanblatt has already observed a number of state employees taking advantage of the center’s proximity to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.
“This is a mutually beneficial relationship among all the partners, but the real winner is the community,” says Shanblatt. “The University Center is opening the doors for many more residents to extend their education and employability.”
A Desire to Thrive: The University of Maryland
Among the guiding principles of the facilities master plan adopted in 2002 at the University of Maryland–College Park is a key objective: “Reinforce the role of the campus as a good neighbor in the larger community through the careful development of sites on the campus periphery or in outlying areas that link us to the community.”
That objective is being tested with a proposed new initiative for redevelopment of UM’s east campus. Brainstorming related to campus improvements began more than two years ago when a group of university vice presidents and deans held a retreat to talk about what was holding UM back from becoming a top 10 institution. One theme voiced consistently throughout the retreat was the need to raise the “livability” of the area, says John Farley, UM’s assistant vice president of administrative affairs. “When you think about major thriving universities, they are great places to go to not only for an education, but also for social and cultural opportunities. When we took a hard look, we saw that we lacked that draw in our surrounding neighborhoods. To come from the interstate to the university, you pass by a string of car dealerships, fast food establishments, and about a half-dozen gas stations,” Farley explains.
Based on this understanding, the institution resolved to do what it could to improve its campus borders, since numerous attempts over the years by private developers to bring new life to the city’s main corridors had never transpired, says Farley. That led institution leaders to consider a 38-acre plot on the east portion of UM’s campus bounded by two main arteries, a railroad track, and the city of College Park—“prime real estate,” Farley notes. This section of UM’s campus currently contains the university’s back-office facilities, including motor pool and shuttle bus operations, facilities maintenance shops and warehouses, public safety and mail services offices, as well as some older garden-style apartments.
Re-envisioning Real Estate
To initiate the process, the university invited a limited number of respondents to reply to a formal RFP. In addition to addressing UM’s request to relocate its back-office facilities, the developer would have to work around UM’s power plant and contend with a five-acre environmentally sensitive site requiring close groundwater monitoring by the university. The developer ultimately proposed a two-phase, mixed-use project valued at more than $700 million. This redevelopment would create more than 2.6 million square feet of build-out, including 420,000 square feet of retail, 100,000 square feet of office space, up to 2,500 apartments, and a full-service hotel. There would also be a grocery store, a bookstore, and possibly a workout gym and an entertainment venue such as a specialty movie theater or auditorium. Still in negotiation, the proposal also includes a ground lease to the developer for 77 years.
While development would take place solely within campus borders, the institution is taking great pains to broker good relations with its neighbors. As part of its outreach to involve the community, UM has organized a 40-member steering committee comprised of 20 campus leaders and 20 community and business leaders selected by city politicians. The goal of the committee’s meetings is to make UM’s intentions clear and to hear the concerns and expectations of community members, Farley says.
“We don’t have to go through this process,” notes Farley. “As a state agency, we have the legal ability to push ahead with this project without city or county approval, but we are waiving that ability and submitting ourselves to full city and county permitting approval and oversight.” In part, this is an attempt by university leadership to ease the distrust that has developed in recent decades, he says.
When the academic school year is in full swing, the UM–College Park campus essentially forms the fifth largest “city” in the state, with 27,000 undergraduates, 10,000 graduate students, and another 10,000 faculty and staff associated with the 1,200-acre campus, notes Farley. By those numbers, UM eclipses all other entities within College Park—including the city itself, which has a population of 25,000 spread across 5½ square miles. The natural inclination for some city leaders over the years has been to view UM as an institution that doesn’t listen, doesn’t pay enough taxes, and doesn’t feel it has to play by the same rules as everyone else, Farley says.
“What we are trying to do at the highest level with obtaining community input is to arrive at some guiding principles for this development initiative on which all can agree,” he says. In listening to comments regarding everything from traffic and parking to environmental and economic concerns, the process has helped hammer out some common ground, says Farley. And, he is heartened that some community and business leaders do in fact understand the positive impact the new development would bring. By UM’s estimates, the university will generate a combined $1.5 billion overall for the city, county, and state economies over the next 36 years. The east campus development project alone is projected to provide $41 million of that amount annually and add 1,200 new full-time jobs.
One aspect on which both community members and UM leadership agree is that the new development should be in keeping with the look of UM’s campus, retaining the flavor of the Georgian architecture prevalent throughout the university’s structures. UM has included a requirement for the developer to allow the university’s architectural design standards committee to have high-level oversight of the project plan, notes Farley, and leaders have agreed to follow strict environmental standards for all new development and major renovation. If all goes as anticipated, relocation of UM’s back-office facilities will be completed by fall 2010, with full completion of the project’s first phase by fall 2011.
From the Inside Out: Jackson State University
Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, spent nearly $200 million in new construction and renovation projects in recent years to address campus facilities needs. Now the university is turning attention outward. JSU’s campus is situated in an area of low-to-moderate income that in recent years was starting to show signs of economic distress. As was the case for Trinity, a rise in the number of abandoned houses and vacant lots surrounding JSU was of growing concern to parents, students, and university staff alike.
In partnership with governmental and nonprofit organizations, JSU is now involved in multiple projects planned or underway to upgrade housing stock, add retail opportunities, encourage business development, and augment the local public transportation system. To formalize these efforts, the university’s leadership decided to centralize its revitalization initiatives under one roof, launching JSU’s Center for University-Based Development in January 2008.
The center’s charge is to look cohesively at community development including land use planning, housing needs, environmental concerns, and workforce and life skills training. “Centralizing these projects also brings dedicated resources to bear to make service learning, internships, and research opportunities available to students and faculty,” says Harvey Johnson Jr., the center’s executive director and a former mayor of Jackson.
One project set for development involves a 50-acre site adjacent to JSU’s campus for which the university’s foundation contributed close to $1.5 million and helped secure a private developer. The $125 million project, financed by market tax credits, will add approximately 300 single-family houses (including some townhomes) and 300 apartments, plus 50,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and parking. A limited liability corporation will own the land, which will keep housing prices affordable and help guard against gentrification, Johnson notes.
To test the market viability of the new homes, JSU set up interviews and focus groups with target home buyers, including city employees and university faculty and staff who responded to a campuswide e-mail blast. “Our close proximity to downtown Jackson makes this neighborhood redevelopment attractive to many potential home buyers,” says Johnson.
Healing the Whole Neighborhood
|Community Redevelopment Resources|
Communities of Opportunity: Smart Growth Strategies for Colleges and Universities is a free NACUBO publication coauthored with the Environmental Protection Agency and Cunningham Quill Architects. It provides an overview of smart growth strategies applied at more than 20 higher education institutions across the country. To download, go to www.nacubo.org/x9290.xml.
For more information from the Environmental Protection Agency about smart growth strategies and initiatives, go to www.epa.gov/dced/index.htm.
To read more about the specific institutional initiatives highlighted in this article, visit these links.
“While we have decided to start with affordable housing, we realize that home ownership requires jobs with incomes that allow people to pay for those homes,” Johnson says. “Our hope for the center is to take a multidisciplined approach in each of our efforts.” A starting point for center staff will be to compile the ample data the university has collected in recent years from numerous planning exercises and community meetings covering demographics, income, and the condition of surrounding infrastructure and housing stock, among other topics, notes Johnson.
“Once we plot a course and can articulate a shared vision of where we want to go and how to get there, everything else will fall in place,” he believes. As a key player in neighborhood revitalization efforts, the center will also facilitate partnerships with community groups and investors and with city, county, and state entities. It will also establish a hotline to respond to project status, provide transparency of project details, and address citizen concerns.
“We believe we are helping people improve their stations in life as we work to revitalize and redevelop these communities of historic and cultural significance that have lapsed into some economic hard times,” Johnson says. “We also understand that this makes JSU itself more marketable by placing us within an environment that is attractive and safe and that offers valuable learning opportunities for our students.”
As is true for most universities in their cities or regions, JSU is a major economic engine in Jackson. “This allows us to leverage our prominence to work with community groups and other nonprofits to drive excitement about redevelopment efforts into surrounding neighborhoods,” says Johnson. Yet, he cautions, buy-in can’t be bought.
Johnson understands there is hard work ahead for his staff. A top priority is to formalize a shared vision with community members. “My background in planning and community development has taught me that neighborhoods can become leery when an institution or large entity suggests engaging in a planning effort. Too often groups don’t do anything with their plans,” Johnson says. “You have to move your plan to a vision that you can implement.”
Another challenge will be prioritizing steps to take in the revitalization process. In community redevelopment efforts, residents may feel neglected in terms of service provisions, explains Johnson. “They often have a litany of things they see in other communities that they want to have, whether that is strong business development to create jobs, affordable housing, shopping opportunities, or even better streets and sidewalks with proper curbs and drainage.” The reality, Johnson observes, is that these concerns can’t all be addressed at the same time.
Further Lessons for Partnerships
Being upfront about your institution’s support is something Trinity’s Jacobson would add to the list of tips for working in partnership with your community. “When starting any major redevelopment project, it’s important to make expectations clear about the level of investment and additional kinds of investments that might be made over time,” says Jacobson. “Especially when you pump significant financial resources into the community as Trinity has done, the community develops expectations that this will continue. In our case, as monetary commitments have decreased, we have dramatically increased our other involvement in terms of volunteer participation and contributions of our intellectual capital.”
For every new capital project, it’s important to consider ongoing operational costs in addition to facilities development and construction, notes Caban of Trinity College’s SINA. “This is all the more important when multiple partners are involved in long-term support, as in the case of the Learning Corridor,” he adds.
A case in point: In 1998, near the same time Trinity’s Learning Corridor was in development, a sizeable grant from the Kellogg Foundation made possible the launch of Trinfo.Cafe to help address the city’s digital divide. The initiative provides technological services to local businesses and teaches computer skills to city residents and organizations.
When the five-year $2.5 million grant was set to expire in 2003, the college hadn’t yet identified an alternate funding source. This coincided with a transition in Trinity’s presidential leadership. “Fortunately, throughout Trinity’s succession of leaders, each president has brought a strong sense of community commitment,” says Carlos Espinosa, director of the Trinfo.Cafe/Smart Neighborhood Initiative. University leaders looked inward to build a stronger connection on campus with other community learning initiatives and were able to secure solid funding from the college to continue Trinfo.Cafe operations, with a more modest $180,000 annual budget.
“The college is still able to provide critical technological services and training to the community, but the transition forced us to ask an important question,” notes Espinosa. “When you become involved in a community project, are you willing at some point to institutionalize the effort within your own budget?”
Trinity recently launched a $350 million capital campaign to support its plans for several new facilities, including a new arts center. Some of the dollars raised will be earmarked to perform deferred maintenance and overall campus improvements, some will go toward the ongoing expense of community partner programs, and some will be dedicated to financial aid for students, which diminished somewhat while Trinity was making significant investments into community development projects, says Michele Jacklin, the college’s director of media relations.
“We have gone through something of a balancing act and have had to weigh concerns about continued investment in the community versus our primary objective of providing top-notch education to students,” asserts Jacklin. “But, this campaign does not signal a turning inward for Trinity. Rather, we see this as a necessary way to replenish our resources so that we can continue to invest in these commitments and continue to strengthen our community for decades to come.”
Karla Hignite, Kaiserslautern, Germany, is a contributing editor for Business Officer.
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