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Netter Center 20th Conference Recap
Conference Videos, New Book on University Engagement, and More
Video Recordings, Photos, and Presentations Now Available
20th Anniversary Honorees
DP Features Keynote by Randi Weingarten
Making History Website Features Conference
Penn Current Q&A with Ira Harkavy
Anchor Institutions are Major Theme of Conference
New Book - The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads
Road Half Traveled Book Talk January 24

Happy New Year to all Netter Friends!

The Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania turned 20 in July 2012. An International Conference in celebration of the 20th Anniversary was held on November 12-13, 2012: “The Role of Higher Education-Community-School Partnerships in Creating Democratic Communities Locally, Nationally, and Globally.”

The conference drew over 500 participants from nearly 80 colleges and universities and 110 local, national, and global organizations (including colleagues from across the United States and from Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Northern Ireland, Lebanon, and Spain).

Stay tuned for spring events celebrating the Netter Center's 20th Anniversary.


Video Recordings, Photos, and Presentations Now Available
A number of video recorded sessions, power points, and remarks can now be found on the Netter Center's website by clicking here.  Additional materials will be posted as they become available.  

There was also a terrific video produced by Kurtis Sensenig of Penn Communications on the Netter Center’s 20 Years, which was on display in the lobby throughout the conference and is currently being featured on Penn’s homepage. Check out the video and story here.

20th Anniversary Honorees
Congratulations to the Netter Center's 20th Anniversary Conference Honorees. The following awards were given out at the luncheon on November 12, 2012:

The Distinguished Civic Partner Award to Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell

The Benjamin Franklin Award to Joseph Bordogna

The Lifetime Achievement Award to Thomas Ehrlich

The Transformative Leadership Award to Barbara Netter and the late Edward Netter

The National Civic Engagement Award to Susan Stroud

The Lee Benson Activist Scholar Award to Henry Louis Taylor, Jr.

The Distinguished Service Award to Members of the Netter Center Community Advisory Board:

  • Jettie Newkirk (Chair) 
  • Frances Aulston 
  • Bishop Claude Barnes 
  • James Brown 
  • Frederick Carey 
  • Katie Cofey 
  • Sharif El-Mekki 
  • Terry Guerra 
  • John Leatherberry 
  • Rev. Joe Nock 
  • Richard Redding 
  • Rev. Carlton Rodgers 
  • K. Rose Samuel-Evans 
  • Alia Walker 
  • Frances Walker-Ponnie 
  • Elsie Wise 
  • Kenneth Woodson 


DP Features Keynote by Randi Weingarten
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers delivered the keynote address at the Netter Center's 20th Anniversary Conference.  The Daily Pennsylvanian covered the story:

Despite the recent economic crisis, Weingarten said, the Netter Center stands out among institutions that combine education, civic responsibility and community service. To this day, it continues the plant seeds to better the future of our country.

She admired the Netter Center’s mentality “that things should be done with community and not to community.” ...

More than ever, the benefits of strong partnerships with universities have become more evident. “We need all hands on deck” to trump poverty, foster learning environments and to fight unjust cuts against education, Weingarten said.



Making History Website Features Conference
Penn Development posted a story on the conference on the website for Making History: The Campaign for Penn.

Supported by an endowment from Barbara and Edward Netter, C’53, both PAR’83, at the start of the Making History Campaign, the Netter Center has succeeded at developing and operating a number of initiatives and programs that positively impact the West Philadelphia community and beyond.

“The Netter Center is an ideal example of what makes Penn distinctive,” said Dr. Gutmann. “Penn is not just in this city, it is of this city,” she continued. “This is where a research function was successfully married to learning and service and integrated to our core academic function to create a new paradigm of advancing knowledge.”

“This conference is clearly more than a celebration of the Netter Center’s 20th anniversary,” said Dr. Harkavy. “It is a celebration of the accomplishments of a movement.”

Read the full story here.

Penn Current Q&A with Ira Harkavy
As the Center celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Current sat down with Harkavy to reflect on student and community engagement, the central purpose of universities, and what the next 20 years might hold.

Q. Do you think this generation has a strong inclination to serve and participate?  Maybe you don’t see as many protests on campus anymore, but do you see more community service?

A. [Having been] very active as an undergraduate, I can say I think students [today] come to college, more than ever, idealistic and oriented towards the work. The students are inspiring. I am so fortunate to be able to teach Penn undergraduates. They are bright, caring, and incredibly able with a strong desire to put their ideals into practice. It isn’t just to see their own personal development and engagement, but it’s also to see that they make real contributions. The idea is that Penn undergraduates can be contributors, not just recipients. They should be part of teams, working with faculty, guided by faculty, and they can help advance learning and make a difference in the world, which I see as connected. Their work is inspiring so many of our projects. So many of the faculty work with us because Penn undergraduates convince them to try it.

The undergraduates both stimulate other work and other students, and they also stimulate faculty and have contributed to some of our most substantial projects. The Wharton-Netter Community Partnership really was a group of Wharton undergraduates who I taught over the years and were one of the reasons that the effort developed. … Even the Sayre Health Center was [inspired by] Penn undergraduates who really mapped what the health center might, and could, look like and worked with deans and faculty from across Penn [to make it happen]. The undergraduate and graduate students have not only shown enthusiasm, but they’ve had a powerful influence on others and it is just a delight to teach them. I learn from them every year. I know I can attest that a lot of the paths the Netter Center and I have taken have come from working with Penn undergraduates.

Read the full story here.

Anchor Institutions are Major Theme of Conference
The theme of anchor institutions was carried strongly throughout the Netter Center's 20th Anniversary Conference.

The Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF)--chaired by Netter Center Director Ira Harkavy and administered by Marga, Inc.--now has over 200 members. The AITF was first formed in 2008 to prepare a report to incoming Secretary Shaun Donovan of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and has been convened as a permanent organization, involving practitioners and leaders in higher education, to develop and disseminate knowledge to help create and advance democratic, mutually beneficial anchor institution-community partnerships across the nation. AITF is guided by the core values of collaboration and partnership, equity and social justice, democracy and democratic practice, and commitment to place and community. 

Check out some of these recent pieces featuring AITF partners:

Hopkins pledges $10 million for neighborhood

America's Tomorrow Interview with AITF Steering Committee Member Ted Howard

The Task Force is an individual membership organization. Institutions will not be members. Individuals can join if they agree with the principles outlined in the statement of the Task Force. There are no dues.

Learn more about the AITF here.


New Book - The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads
book_coverA new book, The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads, was co-authored by Rita Axelroth Hodges, Penn alumnae and Assistant Director of the Netter Center, and Steve Dubb, Research Director of the Democracy Collaborative. The book examines the role of colleges and universities as anchor institutions, particularly their impact on community economic development. Penn News had this to say:

The pair drew on 10 diverse universities as case studies... The authors said the schools’ engagement with their communities has come about through a variety of ways but stems from a deep tradition of the land-grant colleges, first created in 1862.  Their work explores practices and strategies that can be employed to improve conditions in low-income communities and emphasizes the critical roles of university leaders, philanthropy and policy in this process.  While a growing number of universities are dedicating resources to support their surrounding communities, the writers suggest much potential for advancement remains...

To date, this book is the most comprehensive account of the range of roles played by universities as anchors in their communities. 

Read the full release by Penn News here.


The Daily Pennsylvanian did a Q&A with author Rita Hodges.

DP: What is one big change that you hope the publication of this book would effect?

RH: We really wanted to spark more conversation and more research among universities, certainly, but also other constituents like the government and private/public sectors to really get them to think about what role they could play and open them up to all the potential that higher education institutions have. If we were able to begin to tap their potential, then the potential for genuine partnerships and community change is powerful.

The whole reason for our title “The Road Half Traveled” is that even the universities that we held up as examples, their road hasn’t been fully paved yet, and certainly hasn’t been traveled yet. There’s still a long way to go, even for universities that are leading this. [Even] Penn is only beginning to tap the comprehensive set of resources in a sustainable, strategic way.

Read the full story here.


Co-author Steve Dubb featured The Road Half Taveled in a recent blog post for Shelterforce entitled, "Unlocking Community Development: the Anchor Key."  

Anchor institutions—a term used to describe public and nonprofit hospitals and universities—are today widely recognized for their role in community economic development. But they have the potential to do a lot more.

Read the full blog post here.


To purchase: The Road Half Traveled is available at select bookstores, including the Penn Bookstore. It is also available on-line at MSU Press -- be sure to use the code "NETTERNEWS" to receive a discounted price of $27.00 (discount valid until February 28, 2013). Or you can download this discount order form.

Road Half Traveled Book Talk January 24
Authors Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb discuss their new book, The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

5:00 - 6:00 PM

University of Pennsylvania Bookstore

3601 Walnut Street

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information click here.

Democratic Devolution Policy Memo
A policy memo by Netter Center Director Ira Harkavy and Assistant Director Rita Hodges on Democratic Devolution: How America’s Colleges and Universities Can Strengthen Their Communities was released by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) in October 2012. PPI is an independent, DC-based think tank.

Click here to download the full memo.

In announcing the report, PPI president Will Marshall noted, "Harkavy and Hodges call for a 'democratic devolution'--new civic partnerships between government and 'higher eds' to tackle urgent community problems, especially low-performing schools."  It is time, Marshall further notes, for higher eds "to make service to their communities once again an integral part of the public mission of every U.S. college and university."