College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

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Business MANAGING HIGHER ED Mending Fences Bucknell University is a successful case study in lessons learned on college/community development. BY BRIAN C. MITCHELL AND DAVID YEAGER R ELATIONS BETWEEN Pennsylvania's Bucknell University and its neighboring community of Lewisburg had deterio- rated so signifi cantly in 1998 that when a series of student parties in the off-campus housing district between the campus and the downtown business area got out of control, local law enforcement threatened swift and immediate action. Hundreds of students responded by blocking the streets of Lewisburg, later tagged by the media as the "Bucknell Riot." The response on both sides underscored the growing lack of trust between the cam- pus and the community. However, the riot triggered important conversations between both parties, which ultimately resulted in decisions to relocate important University assets into the community rather than keeping them on campus. Ultimately, the riot forced the University and the com- munity to become more attentive to the concerns of each other. Lewisburg is an older small town in a rural area of the northern Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania. Bucknell is a small, private University. While not always understood by each other, the University and the community had a very symbi- otic relationship. But it wasn't until these forces converged and important leadership 62 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 emerged that conversation started between Bucknell, Lewisburg, and the business community. And while these conversations between the University and the community had been ongoing for a number of years, the real momentum was created in 2007 when Bucknell secured state funding to support its community efforts. Of course, there are good models for college/community collaboratives: Penn (The University of Pennsylvania) in West Philadelphia and the University of Roches- ter's riverfront renewal efforts in Roch- ester, NY, are but two examples. But the difference with Bucknell and Lewisburg was in scale. Bucknell has 3,600 students WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM PHOTO COURTESY OF BUCKNELL OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS/GORDON WENZEL

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