The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is pleased to announce that Josie Gatti Schafer, Ph.D., has been named the 2023 CUMU-Philadelphia Fed Research Fellow. During the fellowship, Dr. Schafer, director of the Center for Public Affairs Research, University of Nebraska at Omaha, will leverage the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Anchor Economy Dashboard, along with a range of demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, to explore and explain variations in the economic impact of anchor institutions, primarily higher education institutions, in their region.

Josie Gatti Schafer, director, Center for Public Affairs Research, University of Nebraska at Omaha

“Leveraging data and insights for the benefit of the people in urban and metropolitan areas that we serve are at the heart of the missions at CUMU and UNO,” Schafer said. “I am incredibly grateful for the partnership and support to conduct research to explore the varied ways anchor institutions sustain and grow their communities.”

UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA, who is currently serving a three-year term on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Omaha Branch Board of Directors, congratulated Schafer.

“Capturing the impact of universities on regional economies will be incredibly important as we work to improve the social mobility of all learners in our communities,” Li said. “Josie Schafer is a gifted educator and scholar who will add immediate value to this project. The UNO community thanks you for lending your time and talents to this effort.”

Anchor institutions have a significant impact on the United States economy. According to the Anchor Economy Initiative at the Philadelphia Fed, higher education institutions and hospitals contribute $1.7 trillion in goods and services to the U.S. economy annually in both direct and indirect impacts. There is substantial regional variation in the economic impact of anchor institutions. The dashboard presents a unique opportunity to explore this regional variation and examine broader questions about the role of anchor institutions in economic and community development.

“As place-based institutions, CUMU members are inextricably linked to the communities they serve,” said Valerie Holton, executive director, CUMU. “I look forward to the research outcomes. They will not only benefit CUMU members as they advance their anchor missions but will help the field by highlighting best practices in economic and community development.”

This fellowship is a unique opportunity that will advance scholarship by leveraging the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Anchor Economy Dashboard. The digital tool shows anchor impacts for the entire U.S. by region and introduces a new reliance index, demonstrating how dependent regional economies are on these institutions. Data are available for 524 multi-county regions. A research report coauthored by Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker details the data and begins to explore the economic significance of anchor institutions in regions across the country.

“When we launched the Anchor Economy Dashboard at the Philadelphia Fed, we saw it as a tool that researchers could use to advance our understanding of how anchor institutions impact regional economies,” said Deborah Diamond, director of the Anchor Economy Initiative, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. “Dr. Schafer’s work combining demographic data with the Dashboard will yield new, important insights into how anchor institutions support regions.”

About CUMU

The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is the longest-running and largest organization committed to serving and connecting urban and metropolitan universities. CUMU focuses on strengthening institutions that are developing new responses to the pressing educational, economic, and social issues of the day. CUMU was formed in 1989 by leaders of metropolitan and urban institutions who realized their unique challenges and opportunities as they looked to the future of higher education. Today, CUMU is dedicated to its member institutions and to the creation and dissemination of knowledge on the issues that face our urban and metropolitan campuses and the communities we serve.

About the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia helps formulate and implement monetary policy, supervises state member banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan holding companies, and provides financial services to depository institutions and the federal government. It is one of the 12 regional Reserve Banks that, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia serves eastern and central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.

About the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.