Penn hosts panel on urban universities, neighborhood revitalization

What is the role of universities in shaping the neighborhoods that surround them?

Leaders from some of the country’s most engaged urban universities, as well as representatives from municipal government and the private sector, will convene at Penn on Thursday, Oct. 31, to contemplate that question, and discuss ways they are already impacting their home turf.

“The Power of Eds & Meds: How Urban Universities are Leading Neighborhood Revitalization and Innovation-Based Economic Development” runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Houston Hall, Room 223. Hosted by the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, the event will concentrate on the public, private, and institutional investments being made in neighborhood revitalization and innovation districts nationwide.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required by 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. 

“Bringing together the scholarly and administrative sides of these issues is both very unusual and very valuable,” says Genie Birch, co-director of Penn IUR and the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education at PennDesign. “These are peers getting together to share their experiences—and Penn has as much to learn from the other institutions as they have to learn from Penn.”

Visiting speakers will include Nim Chinniah, executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer at the University of Chicago; Gayle Farris, principal at GB Farris Strategies; Andrew Frank, special adviser to the president on economic development at Johns Hopkins University; Katie Lapp, executive vice president at Harvard University; and Robert Steel, deputy mayor for economic development for the City of New York.

Birch says topics on Carnaroli’s speaking agenda will include Penn’s success in working with Penn Alexander School and ways in which the University can move forward in developing the recently-acquired South Bank campus.

“In Carnaroli, we have not only a wonderful leader in terms of being a businessman, but also a thoughtful leader who wants to take time to reflect on the types of things that will leave lasting value and legacy,” says Birch, who will moderate the discussion. “His desire to make careful choices really is another indication of Penn’s leadership.”

Other topics for discussion include the expansion of Harvard’s Allston campus, the University of Chicago’s role in neighborhood revitalization, the role of community benefits agreements at universities, and possible ways to measure economic impact in surrounding areas.

“Penn is a national leader,” Birch says. “That’s exhibited by the fact that people want to come to Penn, which is in the position it is because [it] has made a number of thoughtful approaches over the years, and have these conversations.”

For more information, visit the Penn IUR website.