“Saviors of Our Cities” Report Puts IUPUI Fourth on Top 25 “Best Neighbor” List for Strengthening Economy, Quality of Life
INDIANAPOLIS – A higher education expert and four-time college president has listed Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) among the nation’s top 25 “Best Neighbor” urban colleges and universities.
In his “Saviors of Our Cities” report, Dr. Evan Dobelle ranks IUPUI fourth on the list of colleges and universities “that, because of their strong positive contribution of careful strategic planning and thoughtful use of resources, have dramatically strengthened the economy and quality of life of their neighboring communities and have become ‘Saviors of Our Cities.’”
Campuses ranked are indeed just what the study title asserts, “Saviors of Our Cities,” said Dobelle, president of the New England Board of Higher Education which serves universities and colleges in six northeastern states.
“The rankings are the culmination of years of experiences as a practitioner, advocate and researcher on the enormous – yet nationally not recognized sufficiently and celebrated – role colleges are playing in the stability of our urban areas,” Dobelle said.
While IUPUI’s level of performance is fairly consistent across the 10 criteria used in the study, the campus’s three top strengths are: its catalyst effect on additional partners for social and economic change; its continued sustainability of neighborhood initiatives that in many ways have supplanted government programs; and the qualitative esprit of the institution in its engagement, according to Dobelle, the former president of four universities.
“IUPUI exists because of the sustained community consensus that a great city needs a great university at its heart,” said IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz. “For 37 years, our faculty, staff, students, and alumni have sought to help make our city stronger by bringing to life the partnerships that are reflected in our name: Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.”
“Saviors of Our Cities” criteria also included faculty and student involvement in community service; accessibility and affordability facilitated by K-12 partnerships; and payroll, research and purchasing power.
IUPUI and the other 24 urban universities on Dobelle’s list are leaders in instituting policies that not only have had positive results on their campuses, but major beneficial impacts on their home cities, said the NEBHE’s announcement of the research findings.
One example of IUPUI’s community engagement is its service learning program in which students and staff contribute volunteer services to community agencies in course-related activities. In the 2004-05 school year, students and faculty contributed 42,875 hours of volunteer service through service learning projects.
The University of Southern California in Los Angeles was No. 1 on the “Saviors of Our Cities” list. Second and third, respectively, were the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio.
Dobelle, who has studied higher education and its impact on cities for 20 years, said he hopes the listing “helps perhaps to change the tone of conversation in how the public perceives higher education as a significant ‘industry’ . . . not which (institution) is the wealthiest or which is the best party school.”
“Higher education is more than teaching and research,” he said. “It is big business with community implications and therefore demands public policy look upon it as such, not as an expenditure, but as a solid growth investment for tax dollars.”