Day Two in Review
While day one of the CUMU Annual conference opened the eyes of attendees to the anchor mission in a broad vision, day two captured the many faces of community engagement from institutions in the U.S. and internationally.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock welcomed a packed room over breakfast, inspiring leaders with the story of his home city. “Our city is one of the most economically vibrant cities in the United States,” said the Mayor. “When you look at cities and their sustainability, it goes back to their universities.”
Shortly after the rousing speech, Dr. Laurie Walker of the University of Montana proudly accepted the Ernest A. Lynton Award for her scholarship. Walker, who earned her PhD in social work from University of Denver, thanked mentors, colleagues, and her partner before sharing a heart-warming tale of an interaction she had with Mayor Hancock involving a second grader looking to see if the previous mayoral candidates were smarter than he, while doing research in Denver.
Following breakfast, the smaller, more focused breakout sessions came to life. In Philadelphia, a healthy ecosystem of government, corporations, higher education institutions, and nonprofits build a successful environment for students to flourish and stay in the city. In the Twin Cities, schools offered discounts for public transportation passes for students and gave free tours of the bus and rail systems.
During the lunchtime plenary, a panel of local business representatives, moderated by Kelly Brough of the Denver Chamber of Commerce, were asked what they look for in the future of the workforce in Denver. Each response came with an underlying theme of educated, skilled, and interdisciplinary workers being in demand.
“This is all about finding those intersections and cross-disciplinary trained workers,” said David Eves of Xcel Energy.
Kirk Mielenz and Debbie Zuege echoed David’s statements in regard to their respective industries of law and healthcare.
Lightning sessions—a group of presentations in one time block lasting five minutes each—filled the Colorado rooms. Each block featured academics from different institutions ensuring that diverse perspectives were equally represented. In one block, California State University, Northridge presented its structure for innovation with Virginia State University following with its battle against food deserts.
Across the hall, representatives from Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan and Portland State University shared their success in a partnership to get Japanese students engaged in their community. Students from Ryukoku built solar panel parks and generators to serve the needs of the Kyoto community. Portland State laid the groundwork and guided Ryukoku in how they can leverage human resources to accomplish these goals.
“We learned how impactful community engagement can be. We plan on publishing a book to show our results to community,” said professors Kazuyo Murata and Katsuka Shiraishi.
While each engagement initiative served the over-arching anchor mission definition, the paths to reach the final goals represented the individual piece of the mosaic of impacting their communities. Each community had its own needs but utilized local resources and partnerships to fulfill the metropolitan-serving mission.