2009 Survey Names Nation's Top 25 'Best Neighbor' Colleges and Universities

Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:00am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Higher Education Veteran Says Economy Makes Town-Gown Relationship "more
important than ever"

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Declaring that the current
state of the U.S. economy makes the economic relationship between institutions
of higher education and their local communities "more important than ever,"
Dr. Evan S. Dobelle, President of Westfield State College, today named the
nation's top 25 "best neighbor" colleges and universities.

In the presentation, "Saviors of Our Cities:  A Survey of Best College and
University Civic Partnerships," the University of Pennsylvania and the
University of Southern California tied for number one. The University of
Dayton (OH) and the University of Pittsburgh (PA) tied for second, and Indiana
University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IN) completes the top five.
Creighton University (NE), Case Western Reserve University (OH), Tulane
University (LA), Portland State University (OR), and Drexel University (PA)
are in the Top Ten. The list's 25 academic institutions were selected because
of their positive impact on their urban communities, including both commercial
and residential activities such as revitalization, cultural renewal,
economics, and community service and development. In addition, 100 other
institutions are recognized on an Honor Roll.

Appearing here before the 15th annual conference of the Coalition of Urban and
Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), Dr. Dobelle said, "Colleges and
universities, as well as the towns and cities in which they are located, are
now under severe economic pressures. The positive financial impact of higher
education on local communities is well-documented," said Dr. Dobelle.
"Increasingly," he said, "more sophisticated partnerships are emerging that
are addressing complex issues such as homelessness and health care and are
serving as catalysts for community change. Colleges and universities are doing
more and more to support their local communities, and it is a win-win
situation for both."

"It's regrettable that with almost a trillion dollars in bailout or stimulus
money that more of these funds are not being invested in projects sponsored by
campus-based civic engagement initiatives. Projects don't come much more
turn-key than those in the higher education-community alliance sphere," said
Dr. Dobelle.

The Saviors of Our Cities rankings are composed of academic institutions
diverse in size, geography and course offerings. They have demonstrated and
documented long-standing cooperative efforts with community leaders to
rehabilitate the cities around them, to influence community revitalization and
cultural renewal, and to encourage economic expansion of the local economy,
urban development and community service. They include:

    1.   University of Pennsylvania -          14.  University of Houston -
          Philadelphia, PA                           Houston, TX
         University of Southern                     University of Missouri at
          California - Los Angeles,                  Kansas City - Kansas
          CA                                         City, MO
                                                    University of Missouri at
                                                     St. Louis - St. Louis,
    --   -------------------------             --    ------------------------
     2.  University of Dayton -                 17.  Emory University -
          Dayton, OH                                  Atlanta, GA
         University of Pittsburgh -
          Pittsburgh, PA
    --   --------------------------             --   ------------------------
     5.  Indiana University-Purdue              18.  University of Wisconsin
          University Indianapolis -                   at Milwaukee -
          Indianapolis, IN                            Milwaukee, WI
    --   --------------------------             --   ------------------------
     6.  Creighton University -                 19.  Carnegie Mellon
          Omaha, NE                                   University -
                                                      Pittsburgh, PA
     --  --------------------------             ---  ------------------------
     7.  Case Western Reserve                   20.  Rhode Island School of
          University - Cleveland, OH                  Design - Providence, RI
     --  --------------------------             ---  ------------------------
     8.  Tulane University - New                21.  Miami-Dade College -
          Orleans, LA                                 Miami
     --  --------------------------             ---  ------------------------
     9.  Portland State University -            22.  St. Louis University -
          Portland, OR                                St. Louis, MO
     --  ---------------------------            ---  ------------------------
    10.  Drexel University -                    23.  Rutgers-Newark, State
          Philadelphia, PA                            University of New Jersey
                                                      - Newark, NJ
    ---  ---------------------------            ---  ------------------------
    11.  Virginia Commonwealth                  24.  George Washington
          University - Richmond, VA                   University - Washington,
    ---  ---------------------------            ---  ------------------------
    12.  University of Louisville -             25.  University of
          Louisville, KY                              Nebraska-Omaha - Omaha,
    ---  ---------------------------            ---  ------------------------
    13.  University of Rochester -
          Rochester, NY
    ---  ---------------------------

Dr. Dobelle published his first Saviors of Our Cities survey in 2006, when he
was president of the New England Board of Higher Education, one of the four
federally authorized regional consortiums of colleges in America. His
re-examination of the 2006 rankings was prompted in part by the change in the
United States economy and the desire to track the evolution and growing
sophistication of efforts by institutions of higher learning to save their
cities from increasing blight. The survey of colleges and universities is an
outcome of more than 20 years of professional experience and ongoing research,
and included a questionnaire and discussion. A comprehensive questionnaire was
widely distributed to colleges and universities with assistance from the
American Council on Education (ACE) and Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan
Universities (CUMU).

Evan Dobelle has served as president of six institutions of higher education,
as well as in government positions at the federal, state, and local level.  He
is an internationally
respected educator and public official who has been honored for his hands on
experience spearheading public/private partnerships to significantly enhance
the campus and community at each of the institutions he has led. He holds
bachelor's and master's degrees and a doctorate in Higher Education
Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master's in
Public Administration from Harvard University.

Criteria for assessment in the 2009 survey remained consistent with the 2006
survey, providing benchmarks for the development and growth of the original
institutions and serving as comparators for new additions to the rankings. 
The criteria include the following:
    --  Length of involvement with the community
    --  Real dollars invested
    --  Catalyst effect on others
    --  Presence felt through payroll, research and purchasing power
    --  Faculty and student involvement in community service
    --  Continued sustainability of neighborhood initiatives
    --  Effect on local student access and affordability to attend college
        through K-12 partnerships
    --  Qualitative esprit of the institution in its engagement
    --  Quantifiable increase in positive recognition of the institution
    --  Increase in student applications and resources raised through renewed
        alumni giving

    --  Recognition of the impact of these institutions within their community

A complete list of rankings including the Honor Roll, will be available online
as of Monday, October 12, 2009 at 10 a.m. at www.wsc.ma.edu/top25saviors .

    CONTACT: Molly Watson

SOURCE  Westfield State College

Molly Watson, +1-413-454-3926, mwatson@everestpr.com, for Westfield State
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