Rutgers–Newark Recognized for Revitalizing its Host City

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The effort by Rutgers–Newark to revitalize and reach out to its host city is drawing  national recognition. 

The university last week was named one of the 25 ‘best neighbor schools’ –  a ranking that recognizes colleges and universities that work to spur economic expansion, cultural renewal and other improvements in their host cities.

Rutgers–Newark was ranked 23rd in the Saviors of Our Cities: A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships.

The rankings were announced this week in Philadelphia at the 15th annual conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

“Colleges and universities are doing more and more to support their local communities, and it’s a win-win situation,” said Evan S. Dobelle, president of Westfield State College in Massachusetts, who conducted the survey. “More sophisticated partnerships are emerging that are addressing complex issues such as homelessness and health care, and are serving as catalysts for community change.”

An overview of the survey praised Rutgers for a range of actions: supporting small businesses, contributing to the arts, providing greater access for residents, conducting legal clinics and creating programs at the Center for Information Management, Integration, and Connectivity.

The survey also noted the Newark Metro, an online publication that reports on metropolitan life in the region. The efforts to revitalize historic Washington Square into a ‘contemporary Greenwich Village’ were also cited.

“Chancellor Steven Diner has charted a course for Rutgers–Newark which builds upon the university’s historic community engagement tradition,” the report said.

Dobelle conducted the first survey in 2006. He followed it up this year to evaluate the impact of the recession and to chart the progress of universities’ efforts to save their cities  from blight.

A comprehensive questionnaire was widely distributed to colleges and universities with assistance from the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and the American Council on Education.