A blue collar city in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh was a beacon for those looking for work and steady pay at the steel mills and manufacturing plants around the three rivers. But, like its industrial sister-cities, Pittsburgh started to rust as the steel companies and manufacturing plants left in the 1980s. However, in recent years, the Steel City has bounced back and become a destination for tech giants, young professionals, and those seeking a first-class education.

To assimilate the newcomers and keep the integrity of local residents and their communities, partnerships with local institutions, like CUMU’s newest member the University of Pittsburgh, are essential. In 2014, the state-related research university formed an official agreement with the City of Pittsburgh by joining the MetroLab network, launching new initiatives and bringing new life to existing projects. The District Energy Initiative is currently building one of the most advanced energy ecosystems in the country while CONNECT is bringing together the 38 municipalities bordering the city.

In addition to their citywide partnerships, the University of Pittsburgh has formal engagement commitments with three specific communities: Oakland, Homewood, and the Hill District. The University is located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood and is an active member of the neighborhood as a responsible steward of its students and trusted partner in development. In Homewood and the Hill District, Pitt is enacting a place-based engagement strategy through the opening of Community Engagement Centers. The programmatic design of each CEC will engage an internal advisory council to identify the educational, research, and capacity-building programs each school is willing to place within the CEC and work with a neighborhood advisory council to align Pitt’s contributions with the existing assets and agendas of the neighborhood.

To even further their impact, “Strengthen Communities” and “Embrace the World” are pillars of the University of Pittsburgh’s strategic plan, aiming to bring their local impact to the global stage. Not only are students, staff, and faculty learning how to be involved and active Pittsburghers, they’re also learning skills to bring with them to whatever place their goals, research, and lives take them. The prioritization of these goals in the strategic plan ingrains the idea of place and the individual’s role in it to every person within the University of Pittsburgh community.

The University of Pittsburgh’s initiatives and programs are helping to shake off the rust from deindustrialization and are key ingredients in recreating Steel City as a thriving metropolitan innovation hub. Its dedication to the local community and beyond is the epitome of the CUMU mission.

“We are excited for Pitt to join a coalition of institutional peers who are also committed to engaging with their broader communities and who seek to embrace their urban identities. Joining the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities is a natural fit with our work and mission.”    —Paul Supowitz, Vice Chancellor for Community and Government Relations

Please join us in welcoming the University of Pittsburgh to CUMU!