University of Michigan, City of Jackson Work Together on Lessons in Politics, Social Change

The project starts in the classroom then moves into the city.

The following article is a great example of a town-gown relationship between the University of Michigan and city of Jackson, Michigan. The article, by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, is being reposted with persmission. Check out the related video here.

As the University of Michigan Blue Bus rumbled down I94 toward Jackson, some School of Information students took advantage of the drive to firm plans for their meetings that day with city officials. Others were engaged in more personal conversations. Perhaps not surprisingly, a few were sitting quietly, tapping on smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Their professor, Clifford Lampe, circulated the bus, answering questions about group projects and sharing copies of the Michigan Municipal League magazine, “The Review,” that had featured the class in the March/April issue. The weekly commute is valuable time for sharing information, bouncing ideas and sorting out issues.

The SI students are the first to be enrolled in Citizen Interaction Design, a course to develop information tools such as apps and social media sites to foster citizen engagement with government. Through a unique three-year partnership, students work on a number of projects with the city of Jackson.

UM students arrive in Jackson.

“The city actually identified 24 problems and we picked 10 of those to move forward with. These aren’t projects like fix my website, these are problems,” Lampe said.

On the March 28 ride to Jackson, James Richardson was “stressing” a bit about the outcome of his team’s work that, at the time, was in the hands of the city attorney for review.

“I just don’t know how it’s going to go,” he told Lampe.

Richardson is part of a team that worked on an open data policy, which would provide the public with access to policies and procedures from the inner workings of the city.

It’s clear from his comments that the second year master’s student will not be content with an “A” for effort on this one, expressing that he hoped the team could get on the city’s agenda to present the policy before the semester ended.

UM students meet with Jackson city leaders.

That opportunity came in April, and at a meeting on the 22nd council members unanimously adopted a first read of the ordinance that could make Jackson the first city in the state to have such a policy. Passage came after a few weeks of earnest debate and a bit of compromise.

Lampe said one of the lessons students learned is that some projects may be embraced wholeheartedly and some may take some time to be adopted, if ever.

“When you try to implement technology it’s the social issues that always are the thorniest,” said Lampe, associate professor in the school.

Another team learned this firsthand as well, tackling an issue many cities face. The group is working with the Jackson Police Department to develop a way for citizens to offer anonymous texts about crime. Department leaders had been hoping for some time to implement a system beyond the current telephone hotline.

Jackson Deputy Chief of Police John Holda talks about the project.

“This spoke to me. It just seemed like something really useful, something very practical, something that the citizens could really get behind,” said student Joshua Sanchez.

John Holda, deputy chief of police, said his department has received feedback from citizens of all ages that they would like to offer information to help solve major crimes like shootings, homicides and robberies in the city, but that they are fearful of retaliation.

“This is an opportunity for us to get something we believe will help us solve crime, help us reduce crime, and have a connection with the community that we don’t currently have in a very cost-effective manner,” Holda said of the Tips by Text app students are developing.

“We’re definitely on the right track to getting it built and implemented,” said student Angela Ng. “We’ve had a lot of support from the police department, which has been really great for us because they’ve really pushed us to move forward.”

Jackson Vice Mayor Derek Dobies discusses the project.

Yet another group is working on a system for providing the community easier access to city geographical resources.

The Maps and Apps team is working with the Geographical Information Systems Department to take data, including maps, globes, reports and charts, and make them accessible through a web application.

Student Jeremy Wdowik said working on this project has helped him better understand the inner workings of government, and offered a way to be involved while somewhat removed from the politics.

“I always wanted to try to get involved with government but I hate the politics. But when you can get into building things, and doing some cool things for the citizens, that’s when I get really excited,” he said.

Many of the students expressed appreciation that the course offered the chance to roll up sleeves and work on real problems.

Jackson City Manager Patrick Burtch discusses the UM partnership.

“Instead of doing a project that disappears at the end of a semester, this has a potential for being something long-lasting, and that actual people in the Jackson community will interact with,” said student Rachel Seltzer, member of the Maps and Apps team. “ So it’s very nice that it’s not contained to the walls of the classroom and that we’ve gotten to do something in which we’ve brainstormed, problem solved and partnered with an institution.”

City leaders have been impressed with the students’ work.

“I found them to be bright and articulate, and although that didn’t surprise me, I was surprised by the advanced level at which they thought and the processes at which they came to conclusions,” said City Manager Patrick Burtch.

“I think the students have had a real positive experience in having a hands-on opportunity to really dig into city affairs and find a lot of great solutions to our problems,” said Derek Dobies, vice mayor of Jackson.

Lampe gives a lot of credit to Jackson officials for launching into the partnership with the university.

“The great thing about the city is that they were incredibly enthusiastic about the really paradigm shifting approach, both in terms of what our goals is—to increase citizen interaction—but also in terms of reimagining town-gown relationships.”

Citizen Interaction Design was developed when the School of Information leadership challenged faculty to come up with courses and activities that engaged students in unique ways. SI encouraged engaged learning initiatives across the school by providing financial support for course development. Lampe also was able to secure Third Century Initiative funding.

In addition to the full class, the work on the Jackson partnership began last summer with a single intern, continued with a fall reading seminar that included Jackson officials, and culminated in the winter term design course. This summer half-a-dozen interns will continue to work with the city and the full course will move to the fall semester.

Redevelopment Underway at Lawrence Technological University Providing Big Boost in Southfield

This birdseye conceptual view of the Southfield City Centre district is facing east from the north side of campus. Ideas include a plaza over Northwestern Highway, a “spine” of new office, retail, and housing development, and other attributes that make the district a destination for student activity, recreation, and socialization.

Reprinted with persmission from Lawrence Technological University Magazine

Significant redevelopment and enhancement of Lawrence Technological University’s Southfield neighborhood is under way and the beneficiaries are current and prospective students, their parents and guests, faculty, staff, alumni, and the thousands of other visitors who journey to campus each year.

One of the first improvements for the Southfield City Centre district was the 2012 construction of a “gateway” plaza on the north end of LTU's campus, at the intersection where Civic Center Drive crosses Northwestern Highway/Lodge Freeway.

Nearly a dozen new restaurants and shops have sprouted on spaces that were formerly vacant or housed underutilized or empty office buildings that have been torn down. The new in-fill spaces are seeing heavy use by the LTU community as well as residential neighbors and 13,000 workers in the surrounding office towers.

Each day, Southfield’s base population of 75,000 residents balloons to 175,000 as business workers and executives head to offices in the city, many located in the towers adjacent to campus. Some 85 Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or offices here. Southfield is attractive because of its central location, great public services, and easy access to freeways.

Lawrence Tech is part of the Southfield City Centre district, ( a roughly triangle-shaped area anchored by LTU’s 102-acre campus on the west, Evergreen Road on the east, Interstate 696 on the north, and Ten Mile Road on the south.

The district’s boundary extends outward from this triangle to include Southfield’s municipal complex which has a wide variety of amenities ranging from the city hall and its events pavilion, to the city library, hockey arena used by Lawrence Tech teams, a golf course, and more.

This “before-and-after” concept shows goals for the build-out of the City Centre district, including walkable and bicycle-friendly access to a variety of interesting shops and restaurants catering to city residents, area office employees, and the LTU campus community. East of LTU’s campus, this view is north from the intersection of Civic Center Drive and Central Park Boulevard.

In 1992, a special assessment district was created to provide for the operation, maintenance, promotion, and development activities within the City Centre district, including developing pedestrian amenities and facilitating economic development. LTU Vice President for Finance and Administration Linda Height serves on the citizens’ committee that helps oversee and encourage the district’s development and growth.

Creating a ‘college town’
Height, Dean of Students Kevin Finn, Campus Architect Joe Veryser, Associate Professor of Architecture Constance Bodurow, and others at LTU have partnered with Mayor Brenda Lawrence, the City Council, Southfield̓s City Planner Terry Croad, and corporate and business neighbors in the city to provide the types of amenities that attract and retain students and others, and build the 24/7 community and relationships that distinguish vibrant “college towns.”

“Southfield’s City Centre is becoming a vibrant and friendly place to live, work, and play. Its evolution is designed around people and not just cars, with restaurants, shops, offices, apartments, public spaces, cultural institutions, and recreation all within convenient walking distance,” said Rochelle Freeman, Southfield’s business development manager.

The overriding goal is reinvention of the district into a walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment designed around people’s interests and lifestyles. The area’s market demand, employment base, and civic center, all within a 10-minute walking radius, creates a unique opportunity to develop a lifestyle center with broad appeal to restaurants and retailers.

Integrating town and gown

Nearly a dozen new stores and restaurants have sprouted in the City Centre district over the past several years, providing students and campus guests with a variety of interesting options.

Lawrence Tech took the lead in the first phase of a comprehensive array of public infrastructure improvements and pedestrian amenities including new pathways, decorative crosswalks, bus shelters, benches, trash receptacles, and bike racks. Last year, the University helped fund improvements at the northeast corner of the campus that connect, via Civic Center Drive (10 1/2 Mile Road) to the rest of the district.

North of Civic Center Drive and east of campus, a former office building is being converted by a private developer into “Arbor Lofts,” providing loft-style apartments that are expected to appeal to a youthful clientele. Lawrence Tech has sublet 12 of the units (48 beds) to accommodate upperclassmen seeking to live on or near campus. LTU’s two apartment-style housing centers on campus have been filled beyond capacity for the past two years.

“LTU has come a long way from being a commuter university to providing a robust residential campus with active student life and a strong connection to the surrounding community,” Finn said. “This fall we will have nearly 1,000 students living on or near campus. We run a weekend shuttle bus within the City Centre and have worked with several businesses there who offer student discounts. ”

Visualizing the future

The Southfield City Centre district (concept view) facing west from the municipal complex.

To help visualize and plan for future enhancements in the district, the City Centre board and City Planner Croad have retained studio[Ci], a design lab in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design founded in 2008 by Bodurow. It engages a trans-disciplinary team of professional architects, urban designers, civil and environmental engineers, as well as students and faculty.

“Our faculty/student design team focuses on density, infrastructure, mobility networks, and net zero energy,” said Bodurow. “We then create land use, urban design, green infrastructure, and architectural proposals utilizing digital technology.”

Phase I of studio[Ci]’s work, completed last summer, includes urban design plans, programming, and visualizations for close to one million square feet of mixed-use development (based on a commissioned market study and including retail, commercial, institutional, and residential development) along with public realm and non-motorized improvements in the City Centre. The team is now working on Phase II, focusing on developing the architectural and public-realm site plan.

A comprehensive agenda

Pedestrian and transit access and easy walkability are already being realized as the Southfield City Centre district evolves and grows.

While everything is conceptual, Croad said the exercise helps city leaders, residents, business owners, and others visualize what is possible. These concepts, all dependent on funding, include a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly east-west “spine” of future development that features ground-floor retail, tech-transfer space, and loft-style housing; “day lighting” the now buried Rouge River tributary that traverses the City Centre; a “civic square” at the corner of Evergreen and Civic Center Drive that will provide space for markets, festivals, and other public events; and even a “deck” plaza over Northwestern Highway north of Civic Center Drive to provide a connection between the campus, other parts of the district, and municipal complex.

In 2014, one of the most ambitious and costly public improvements in the district to date will be the complete rebuilding and transformation of Evergreen Road into a boulevard with a landscaped median, bike path, bioswales, and pedestrian-friendly amenities. The $10–15 million project is being funded by the City Centre, the City of Southfield, and SEMCOG.

“Student life at great colleges and universities is closely tied to the activities and opportunities for socialization, recreation, and just plain ‘fun’ surrounding the campus,” Finn said. “We are pleased to partner with the city and our corporate neighbors in this exciting process that will result in an ever better collegiate experience for our students and others at the University.”

Mt. Pleasant, Central Michigan University Growing Together

Members of the CMU Greek community join together several Sunday mornings each semester to clean up Mt. Pleasant’s streets.

By Kathleen Ling and Dr. George Ross

“Mt. Pleasant was destined to have a college,” John Cumming wrote in his book, “This Place Mount Pleasant,” published during the city’s centennial in 1989.

Central Michigan University was established in Mt. Pleasant in 1892.

An interest in education started early in our history and has continued since — the city helping to support a university, and the university helping to shape a city. Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute, now known as Central Michigan University, opened in 1892 with the collaboration of determined residents.

Today, much of the city’s active, community-oriented culture, stable economy, small business growth and real estate development are impacted by the needs of CMU students, faculty and staff.

Using a car to cross campus or town is becoming a second thought as the city and university work together to create a bikable and walkable community with a thorough network of bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

In 2010, the city worked with Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, on a Campus Connection project.

Summer in Mt. Pleasant brings with it the Festival of Banners, a community-wide collaboration that decorates the streets of Mt. Pleasant.

The project was designed to improve city streets to better connect campus to downtown and other areas of the city.

Streetscape charm
We work together all year to keep those streets decorated and clean.

Each summer, Art Reach of Mid Michigan lines city streets with banners painted by community artists of all ages.

CMU faculty, staff and students have a definitive presence in this colorful, unique public exhibit.

During the Dickens’ Christmas Festival, CMU fraternities and sororities decorate their homes with lights seen by festival goers during hayrides through the streets.

Thanks to technology, the effort also is seen by thousands of “visitors” to university and city websites and social media.

Student/city partners
Collaboration between the city’s code enforcement team and Greek community at CMU has developed into “Greeks Clean the Streets.”

CMU were involved as volunteers and participants at the inaugural Freakin’ Freezing Challenge, a winter obstacle run established in 2013.

A few Sunday mornings each semester are spent removing trash along streets surrounding campus.

Going further, city-led events rarely take place without the help of CMU student volunteers, who assist with planning and execution of events such as the Freakin’ Freezing Challenge, a new winter obstacle run.

Students helping children
A spirit of care benefits even the youngest Mt. Pleasant residents.

In the Biobuds program, CMU graduate students visit elementary classrooms and share their passion for biology, engaging students in science at an early age.

Consider as well the CMU student teacher who worked with four mentally impaired students to create a solar system display.

A CMU student helps festival goers onto a hayride during Mt. Pleasant’s annual Dickens’ Christmas Festival.

The project grew to involve nearly 100 fifth-grade students producing a display now exhibited at the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.

Jointly planning the future
As we move forward, the city and CMU are updating their master plans.

We’ve worked closely together and even hired the same transportation specialist to assure coordination.

This same collaboration has led to development of a town and gown group that meets monthly, with representatives from the city, CMU and area organizations.

The future is bright, and we look forward to moving into it together.

When you think of Mt. Pleasant, you think of CMU. When you think of Central Michigan University, you think of Mt. Pleasant.

That’s the way it should be.

Kathleen Ling is the Mayor of Mt. Pleasant and Dr. George Ross is the President of Central Michigan University. Ling was appointed mayor Mt. Pleasant by her fellow City Commissioners in January, 2013. Dr. Ross became the 14th president of Central Michigan University on March 1, 2010.

City of Auburn Hills Works with Higher Education Institutions to Better Serve Students, Community

Baker College in Auburn Hills

By Peter Auger

When asked to write a short blog on our relationships with our local higher education partner, my question is which one? Most people don’t realize that Auburn Hills is a college town with five institutions having a footprint here. We have different relationships with each institution, but we are actively engaged with them all.

Peter Auger

Having more than 35,000 college students coming to our community every week puts us in a unique situation that we don’t believe we have capitalized on, yet.

But that process of active engagement has begun and I believe is highlighted by one of our projects in our downtown.

During the downturn in the economy some rundown properties were made available to us and we jumped at the opportunity to create more public value.

We knew, as a community, we lacked some housing components for college students. We also found through a survey of students that what they would like is a place to gather that was not a bar.

Another piece of information we found out through our interaction with all of our education partners is that high-tech classroom area is at a premium on all their campuses.

Through the efforts of many people and much cooperation between Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Baker College, Cooley Law School, Avondale School District and even our Chamber of Commerce and the private sector, we have launched a great downtown project that is changing the face of our community and building that sense of place.

Multi-use building being re-purposed in Auburn Hills.

Briefly, I will attempt to explain this series of projects that started with a simple conversation.

University Center is an old, two-story structure that is being re-purposed into two downstairs high-tech classrooms (one will fit 50 people the other 30-plus). The upper level will become Avondale High School’s Virtual Learning Center.

The colleges have all worked together for scheduling of the classrooms and to determine how the rooms would be furnished (chairs and tables and with the plug and play technology).

Directly next door is a private housing developer who has worked with Oakland University and Cooley Law School to create 97 graduate student housing apartments, with retail on the first floor. This structure is wrapped around a four-story parking structure that our Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA) district built and is attached to the housing complex.

Log cabin in Auburn Hills.

Last, but not least, is a historic log cabin that the city owns which was modernized and furnished as a public gathering place with multiple fireplaces and deck area. This space also offers free wifi and areas for group study.

This is obviously a Readers Digest version of our project, but it all started with a simple conversation between a municipality and higher education officials when we decided to work together. Is it working? Well, you be the judge, we would love to have you visit downtown Auburn Hills.

Peter Auger is the city manager for Auburn Hills.

Municipalities Implementing Bold Strategies to Sustain Vibrant Economies and Healthy Communities

Michigan Tech University students have a work-group discussion.

By Brandy Johnson and Marjorie D. Cohen
Reprinted with persmission from The Review magazine

In order for Michigan cities to sustain vibrant economies and healthy communities, they must implement bold strategies that ensure more of the residents attain college degrees and valuable postsecondary certificates.

A recent study by CEOs for Cities found that 58 percent of a region’s economic health comes from the educational attainment of its residents. Another one from Georgetown University predicts that 62 percent of all Michigan jobs will require postsecondary education by the year 2018.

The benefits of increased levels of education to cities are substantial. Per capita income increases, and subsequently so do tax revenues. Unemployment goes down and so does reliance on public benefits. Crime goes down and volunteerism goes up. The demand for a more highly skilled workforce is growing—and municipal leaders have a unique opportunity to be a part of the supply-side solution.

Grand Valley State University campus.

According to the National League of Cities (NLC), municipal officials are uniquely positioned to form new partnerships with leaders in K-12 and higher education, workforce development, and business to increase postsecondary completion rates.

With support from Lumina Foundation, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families has developed a new series of publications highlighting city strategies to increase local college completion rates. They have also analyzed the role that mayors are playing to support college access and success in their cities. In the last few years, municipal leaders in dozens of cities have launched new, multi-sector collaborations to dramatically increase the proportion of residents in their communities who obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials. City officials are increasingly focused on postsecondary success as a core component of their economic development strategies.

In Michigan, municipal leaders have the opportunity to leverage new resources for their communities by joining a growing coalition of networks committed to ensure more of their residents pursue and complete education beyond high school.

In 2008, a group of high-level leaders representing K-12, higher education, business, government, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy, began meeting to discuss the possibility of establishing a statewide network responsible for galvanizing an educational attainment movement in the state.

Western Michigan University campus.

Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) formally launched in 2010 with support from federal, state, and philanthropic funding and was charged with increasing Michigan’s educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. Only about 36 percent of Michigan adults aged 25-64 possess at least an associate degree (to find your county’s rate, visit

Local College Access Networks
Just three years later, MCAN is now supporting more than 50 communities’ efforts to mobilize leadership and resources around the goal of increasing the educational attainment of their citizens with a focus on aligning systems around college readiness, college participation, and college completion rates. Far too many Michigan students don’t pursue higher education after high school—and many that do, don’t ever complete a degree because they aren’t socially, academically, informationally, or financially prepared. MCAN helps communities build cross-sector strategic alliances, known as Local College Access Networks, or LCANs.

Each LCAN:
• Agrees on a vision;
• Establishes clear college readiness/
participation/completion goals;
• Aligns and coordinates existing organizations to shared goals to fill differentiated roles;
• Implements a collaborative action plan based on data-driven community priorities; and
• Tracks progress on goals transparently and holds partners accountable for results.

University of Michigan-Flint campus.

Michigan Communities Involved
Communities throughout Michigan are designing and implementing innovative strategies to boost college attainment via their LCANs. In Newaygo County, community leaders have raised enough funds to place full-time college advisers in each of their high schools to provide one-on-one assistance guidance to all graduating seniors. Benton Harbor, Hazel Park, Lansing, Pontiac, and Saginaw have all launched universal place-based scholarships to all students inspired by the Kalamazoo Promise. Muskegon County and St. Clair County are each leading major public awareness campaigns to build a college-going culture.

Bay City and Jackson both opened college access resource centers where students and families can visit to get advice and resources on postsecondary educational opportunities. Escanaba has identified former students who are not enrolled in college but are within 12 credits from an associate degree and supports them to complete the degree. Sturgis recently launched a 10-year strategic plan for the city and has lifted up their LCAN as their primary workforce development strategy. Detroit and Grand Rapids are both participating in a national competition to demonstrate the largest increase in postsecondary completion—the winner will get a $1 million prize to launch a national promotional campaign highlighting local efforts.

Hillsdale College library.

Steps Municipal Leaders Can Take
In their recent respective publications, both MCAN and NLC have outlined a set of action steps for municipal leaders who are concerned about low college completion rates and want to identify and advance solutions. As a first step, local officials can convene leaders from across sectors to develop a more coordinated strategy to provide students will supports and services they need to graduate with a postsecondary credential.

Additional action steps mayors/presidents should take include:
• Conducting an inventory or scan of local college access and success efforts across sectors, institutions, and community partners;
• Hosting consultative sessions to listen to the perspectives of various stakeholders;
• Establishing a leadership structure to guide and sustain college access and completion efforts;
• Seeking consensus regarding measurable outcomes and key benchmarks or milestones to assess progress;
• Creating data sharing agreements and protocols in order to assemble a fuller picture of the municipality’s education pipeline;
• Developing and implementing action plans that have the potential to “move the needle” on college completion; and
• Persistently raising awareness and celebrating early victories to build and sustain momentum.

To read more about the NLC Postsecondary Success Action Guides, go here.

For Michigan municipal leaders, MCAN can provide grant funding, hands-on technical assistance, and additional tools to interested funding. For more information, visit

Brandy Johnson is the executive director of the Michigan College Access Network. You may reach her at 517-454-1387 or Marjorie D. Cohen is a senior associate at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. You may reach her at 202-626-3052 or

Hope College and Holland Community are Family; College and City Grow Together Over Last 150 Years

Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman and Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra.

Linked by both history and geography, Hope College and the community of Holland aren’t just neighbors, but family.

The key to understanding the relationship is in the college’s very name. As the young town began to grow from the woodlands of West Michigan, founder Albertus C. Van Raalte knew that education would be crucial in assuring a bright future for the community and its people. Accordingly, he set aside land at Holland’s heart, making Hope College a central part of the city.

Even as both have grown, the dynamic has remained, with Hope and Holland shaping and strengthening one another in ways innumerable as they have traveled together for nearly 150 years.

“Having Hope not just physically in the center of the city but metaphysically in many ways at the center of the city helps create the unique community that we have,” said Kurt Dykstra, mayor of Holland. “There might be other communities that have as good a relationship as Hope and Holland, but I can’t imagine that there are any places where the relationship is stronger.”

Hope College students perform community service work.

The positive relationship is fostered by the 6,000 Holland-area residents who are alumni, but it goes deeper than that. Faculty, staff and students are active volunteers, committed to serving their community in many ways. Area residents frequent arts events, scholarly presentations and the college’s athletic contests, many of them offered free of charge. The college provides a range of community programs like CASA (Children’s After School Achievement) and TRIO Upward Bound for area students, and the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (HASP) for retirees. Student-athletes are involved with Special Olympics programs and the entire student body has raised over $1.1 million for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Hope and the city have worked amicably together in addressing long-term property development that benefits all parties. The college’s campus acreage has increased three-fold in the last decade.

“This could not have happened without cooperative city officials,” said Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman.

The college recently purchased from the city the municipal football stadium, upgraded it considerably and is allowing local public schools and the city to use it rent-free. The college has a significant presence in the nearby central business district.

Hope College students in downtown Holland.

“Not infrequently, other colleges and communities ask Hope and Holland how to develop this positive town-gown relationship,” said President Bultman.

“One of the first things that I say is that this didn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It’s gone on for years, decades, with the involvement of many people in both the community and the college that worked hard to establish such a strong relationship.

While Hope frequently earns national attention for the quality of its academic programs, Holland, too, has been recognized multiple times through the years. Accolades in the past decade alone have included recognition as a one of the country’s “happiest” and “tidiest” communities, one of the country’s job-growth and manufacturing leaders, as well as inclusion among the “smartest” cities based on education and acclaim as a “distinctive destination.”

These recognitions have benefited the college as it recruits students from around the country and internationally.

The Community Day picnic.

“A significant selling-point to prospective students and their families is the quality of life evident throughout the Holland community,” said President Bultman.

The first days of every school year are intentionally focused on the town-gown relationship. Since the mid-1960s the college and city have co-sponsored a Community Day picnic that draws thousands.

The second weekend of the school year is declared Time to Serve with hundreds of students, many of them new to the college and community, undertaking community service projects.

The award-winning Holland downtown, with its mix of student-friendly stores, coffee shops and restaurants and located a block from Hope’s campus, is a popular destination for Hope’s undergraduates, their families and other visitors to campus, as are the Lake Michigan beaches just a few miles to the west.

Even as Hope students benefit from the outstanding Holland community, the college and Hope people contribute significantly.

Hope College students paint the face of a Holland youngster at Community Day.

A recent study estimated the overall economic impact of Hope on the Holland region to be $213 million annually. The college is a significant economic engine, with 80.5 percent of its revenue coming from outside the area.

The study estimated that $1 in every $40 spent in the region is spent because of Hope, and that one out of every 40 people is in the region because of Hope, which creates 1,000 jobs in the area.

“We have a deep commitment to and understanding that Holland is a better place because Hope is here – and we also think that Hope is a better place because it is located in the heart of Holland, Michigan,” Dykstra stated. “I really cannot imagine what Holland would be like without a strong Hope College… and, working together, I am confident that we will never have to find out.”

Michigan State University and East Lansing: A Close Working Partnership

By Diane Goddeeris and Lou Anna K. Simon

Mayor Goddeeris & President Simon

Few communities can match college towns for sheer vibrancy. Students contribute great energy to a place and, with a diverse group of exceptional faculty members and a rising international student population, there is an added cosmopolitan—even global dimension—to university communities such as East Lansing.

“Town–gown” tensions are always the other side of the coin, but they can be managed through close cooperation between a university and its home community. We’re proud of the working partnership we’ve formed to promote the development of citizen-scholars among the student body and integration of Michigan State University into local civic life.

Students attend Taste of East Lansing event.

At the strategic level, MSU and the City of East Lansing partner on planning and economic development activities, such as a planning exercise the university is funding focused on the corridor that forms our border. The greater objective is to examine what it will take to make this a world-class university community, which might help form the framework for the city’s upcoming comprehensive plan update.

Some of our most innovative partnerships involve creating jobs and retaining talent in the community—initiatives that helped us earn recognition as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Best College Towns to Start a Business.”

The Technology Innovation Center (TIC).

East Lansing in 2008 developed the Technology Innovation Center (TIC), a downtown technology business start-up incubator, directly across from the MSU campus. Within six months, the TIC was occupied to capacity and has since served as a model for others around the country. Many businesses there stem from MSU research.

The university and city next cooperated to launch The Hatch, an adjacent student start-up business incubator. One enterprise it houses, TempoRun, is based on a mobile music/fitness application that in March won this year’s national Student Startup Madness business pitch competition at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.

Students participate in East Lansing recycling program.

Michigan State reaffirmed its commitment to growing businesses locally by placing the MSU Innovation Center in the same commercial building housing the TIC and The Hatch. The Innovation Center is composed of MSU Technologies, the university’s technology transfer office; Business-CONNECT, its corporate and business liaison group; and Spartan Innovations, which supports faculty and student business start-ups with talent and financing. The TIC/Hatch/Spartan Innovations cluster helps bring MSU technology to the marketplace as rapidly as possible and puts university resources within closer reach of the business community.

In tough budget times, the university and city naturally look for ways to share resources to maintain high-quality services. Campus and city police do joint training, for example, and recently partnered to form an emergency Special Response Team. East Lansing operates our jointly owned wastewater treatment system and recently began providing water service to a portion of campus.

Students walk outside of the new Broad Art Museum.

What could become the most iconic symbol of campus and community integration opened just last November. Michigan State’s stunning Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum was intentionally sited at the campus/city boundary along busy Grand River Avenue and designed to welcome visitors from both the campus and the city. The city embraced the new museum, providing signage, promotion, and activities to supplement the museum’s programming.

Students patron at businesses in downtown East Lansing.

Now we’re both actively engaged to recruit new businesses to complement the museum and add cultural vibrancy to the community.

To mitigate the inevitable conflicts arising between students and permanent residents, the city and university formed the Community Relations Coalition (CRC) to engage students residing off campus and local residents in programs designed to promote mutual consideration.

The CRC, which sponsors activities such as neighborhood cleanups and community conversations, was honored with the East Lansing Crystal Award for outstanding voluntary service to the community in 2011.

Ice cream social event in East Lansing.

We work to get students and East Lansing residents on the same page—literally—right from the start of the school year with our One Book One Community reading program.

Students also are engaged with the community during Fall Welcome with special shopping promotions and opportunities to support local charities. Another MSU–city event worth note is the annual East Lansing Welcomes the World program, which is a great example of our community and international students coming together.

Community service is a value Michigan State strongly encourages. Registrations at the MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, the nation’s oldest center of its kind, more than tripled in the last decade.

Signage helps link MSU and East Lansing.

Some 18,900 student registrations for volunteer service were recorded there in 2011–12. Students are volunteering at hospitals, youth organizations, and many nonprofits in Lansing and East Lansing. More than a thousand students were placed in area schools in the fall 2012 semester to work as tutors, classroom assistants, reading and recreation group supervisors, and more.

Michigan State’s 158-year heritage as the nation’s pioneer land-grant university means that community and stakeholder engagement—in East Lansing and indeed across Michigan—shares primacy with education and research imperatives.

East Lansing has grown up with the university, forming its own school district in 1900 and incorporating as a city in 1907. It now includes more than 25 neighborhoods with a number of active neighborhood associations and, with the university, produces popular summer art and folk festivals.

Diane Goddeeris is the Mayor of East Lansing and Lou Anna K. Simon is the President of Michigan State University.

Alma College and City of Alma Persevere Together Through Good Times, Challenging Times

By Mayor Mel Nyman and President Jeff Abernathy

Mayor Nyman & President Abernathy

Since its founding in 1886, Alma College has stood as a vital community partner, dramatically affecting the lives of those living in mid-Michigan and beyond. The college’s founding was made possible by Ammi Wright, a lumberman, businessman and civic leader who gave 30 acres of land and more than $300,000 to found and sustain the institution in its early years — a sum equivalent to more than $6.2 million today.

More than 125 years later, Alma College continues to value its role in the mid-Michigan community. The campus hosts the annual Alma Highland Arts Festival, which brings thousands of visitors to mid-Michigan to celebrate their Scottish heritage.

An Alma College student volunteers in the community.

As part of its mission, the college also promotes a “culture of service” in which students meet local needs through participation with numerous community agencies and organizations.

One of the key questions in the college’s most recent planning effort was how it could leverage its presence to ensure that the college can thrive together with the community. The resulting plan, while establishing important educational goals, includes an emphasis on creating a sustainable campus and community. It states directly: “We will assist our city of Alma — where we aim to create a seamless environment between the downtown and the campus— as well as communities across Mid-Michigan in order to help our region thrive in the decades to come.”

There is much to be thankful in our small community of Alma. Business is growing in the downtown. Within view of town, the largest wind farm in Michigan has risen, with 167 monuments to the new economy. The efforts by community leaders in collaboration with Alma College professors and students to address environmental challenges caused by a chemical company that left the area decades ago continue to make meaningful progress.

Downtown Alma

All this good news is especially welcome in Alma, where we have had our share of challenges. The most recent economic downtown hit mid-Michigan hard, and in October 2010, a ruinous fire all but destroyed a prominent landmark at the center of our downtown, Alma’s former Opera House. In such a close-knit community, nearly every citizen felt the impact of these and other challenges.

And yet, the values and benefits of living in a college town still appeal to many. Recent developments are evidence that collaborative college-town partnerships are making a difference. Those developments include:

The downtown Alma College bookstore.

  • In 2011, the college purchased a vacant building and moved its bookstore off campus and across the street into a location that formerly represented a geographic divide between town and gown. The college also partnered with Stucchi’s — a successful ice cream store that was destroyed in the downtown Opera House fire — and brought it in under the same roof. The new business is thriving, a welcome addition to the downtown where students and community members come together.
  • Kurt Wassenaar, an investor with local roots committed to revitalizing the downtown Alma business district, bought the burned Opera House and determined to save it from demolition. Today, the building is undergoing major renovations that will restore its historic features while providing new retail opportunities on the ground floor and, in a leasing partnership with Alma College, student apartments on the second and third floors.

    Alma Fall Festival helps bring the city and college together.

  • Alma College has set an aggressive goal to place a large number of interns across mid-Michigan in an effort to help non-profits and governmental entities that lost so many resources in the recent downturn. Such work is hugely beneficial to Alma students even as it will help to sustain the communities across our region. Alma College students can learn how to leave positive footprints in Alma and wherever they go in the future.
  • Alma College’s Center for Responsible Leadership and the Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce sponsor an annual Fall Festival in October in downtown Alma. The purpose of the event is to strengthen the connection between the college and community and to encourage community members, merchants and students to meet and interact in a positive and education atmosphere. Activities include merchant specials and giveaways, raffle drawings, face and pumpkin painting, kids activities and more.

Reaching out to the community is a part of Alma College’s mission to “prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsively.” We remain committed to the exciting work of building and nurturing community partnerships that will be key to the college’s future as well as that of our town and region.

Mel Nyman is the Mayor of Alma and Jeff Abernathy is the President of Alma College.

Town-Gown Partnerships Focus of Prosperity Agenda Radio Show on News/Talk 760 WJR

By Dan Gilmartin

David Lossing talks about Town-Gown partnerships.

Town-Gown partnerships and the important relationship between communities and their adjacent colleges and universities is the theme of this month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR.

The show airs 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2013, but you can listen anytime here.

During the show, we discuss how cooperation between city and high education institutions can lead to the economic vibrancy of the entire community.

Dan Gilmartin talks about Town-Gown.

Many experts agree that the key to restoring economic prosperity in Michigan is creating the kinds of communities where people want to live. One way to accomplish this is the completion of Town-Gown projects.

What does Town-Gown mean? Town-gown is the interaction of the inhabitants of a college or university town (Town) and the students and personnel of the college (Gown).

Universities and host towns have an incentive to cooperate, as the schools require city services and need city approval for long-range plans, while the university towns need remuneration for public services provided.

My co-host for the show is Marjory Raymer, community news editor for the Flint Journal and

Our guests are Chris LaGrand, deputy director of Housing for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Anthony Bosbous; and David Lossing, President of the Michigan Municipal League, Mayor of Linden, director of government relations for University of Michigan-Flint, and founder of the League’s Town Gown blog.

Marjory Raymer talks about Town-Gown Relationships.

For more on this topic, be sure to check out the Michigan Municipal League’s Town-Gown blog.

The Prosperity Agenda is a monthly radio show that challenges listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play by creating vibrant and prosperous local communities. It airs on News/Talk 760 WJR on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

Our March show is scheduled to air 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2013, however and you can listen to it anytime at the League’s website or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the placemaking concept here as well as on this blog.

Dan Gilmartin is CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League and host of the monthly Prosperity Agenda Radio Show on News/Talk 760 WJR.

City of Battle Creek and Kellogg Community College Have Long Held Education in High Regard

By Mayor Susan Baldwin and President Dr. Dennis Bona

Mayor Baldwin and Dr. Bona.

Battle Creek has an interesting and unconventional past. Our rich heritage includes former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth; Seventh-day Adventist visionary Ellen White; Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who transformed health care in the nineteenth century; and cereal industry magnates C.W. Post and W.K. Kellogg. We have always held education in high regard, so it is no surprise that our city is home to Kellogg Community College.

Whether you are strolling on the brand new sidewalks and Wave Square of downtown Battle Creek or walking around the beautiful campus of Kellogg Community College just a mile north of downtown, it’s easy to get a sense that everyone is focused on the future.

A KCC student learns to weld.

Young professionals are hustling between office buildings or gathering to discuss their latest innovative ideas on new lighted benches downtown. On KCC’s campus, students are becoming future nurses, engineers, teachers, police officers and entrepreneurs.  Professors focus on new technology and educational methods.

The history and future of Battle Creek and KCC are intertwined with strong partnerships and shared goals. KCC partners with the City of Battle Creek and a range of employers, organizations, and educational institutions.

Just a few of the connections between the city and KCC include:

  • KCC has teamed with Battle Creek Unlimited, the city’s economic development arm, as well as Michigan Works and Goodwill Industries to develop the “Family Economic Stability” initiative with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  This important initiative brings together critical components to assist low-income families in Battle Creek with essential skills and employment opportunities.

    Historic signage in downtown Battle Creek.

  • KCC provides work-based learning experiences for students through the Battle Creek Police Department, Bronson Battle Creek, Kellogg Company, Denso Manufacturing and others.
  • KCC’s campus on North Avenue contains a portion of the city’s Linear Park Path and the College has an agreement with the Battle Creek Parks and Recreation Department to make athletic facilities available.  KCC’s international-sized soccer field, for example, is used for the city’s summer youth soccer leagues.
  • City and KCC officials regularly serve together on community boards and initiatives for the purpose of providing better economic opportunities for area residents.

    Downtown Battle Creek.

Highlights of KCC’s contribution to the Battle Creek community include:

  • The Regional Manufacturing Technology Center, where programs are designed for continuing education and certification or recertification for people in industrial skilled trades. The RMTC is an innovative, community-driven training facility located in Fort Custer Industrial Park. It is home to three KCC programs: Lifelong Learning, Workforce Solutions and Industrial Skilled Trades. Training programs are designed to meet the employee training needs of area business and industry as well the life-long learning needs of community members.
  • The Legacy Scholars Program, which provides educational, emotional, social and financial support and opportunities for Battle Creek Public and Lakeview School District students to graduate from high school and obtain a college degree. KCC plays a major role in the Legacy Scholars Program, which provides a scholarship to KCC for all Battle Creek and Lakeview graduates.

    KCC campus in the fall.

  • KCC’s Dental Hygiene Program, which operates a dental clinic on the North Avenue campus to provide low-cost dental hygiene treatment for the community. The program also goes off-site to provide oral health education and some limited mobile dental hygiene treatment.

All of these important programs are integral to our quality of life and part of what makes Battle Creek a great place to live. But we can also talk hard numbers.

  • Direct wages, salaries and benefits of KCC faculty and staff, plus routine college operations, increase incomes in the KCC service area by at least $21.9 million annually.
  • About 37 percent of KCC’s students come from outside the region to attend college in the KCC service area. The effects of these out-of-region students account for around $1.5 million in added regional income.

    KCC campus.

  • College-trained workers deepen Battle Creek’s human capital. This results in higher wages for students, greater returns for property owners, increased tax revenues and higher incomes due to economy-wide multiplier effects. Altogether, it is estimated that the productivity of KCC’s past and present students contributes $217.1 million to economic growth in the KCC service area.

The City of Battle Creek and Kellogg Community College long ago realized that, by working together, we both thrive and prosper.

A park in downtown Battle Creek.

Opportunities for life-long learning, workforce training and quality community programs through KCC help Battle Creek become more attractive to the young adults of the knowledge economy.

Our city efforts to address neighborhood improvements, entice new shopping and entertainment proprietors and re-build our downtown make our city more appealing to students looking for educational opportunities.  This is the spirit of the Battle Creek area, our relentless optimism. Together, we will build our bright future.

Susan Baldwin is the Mayor of the City of Battle Creek and Dr. Dennis Bona is the President of Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek.