Two-Day National Conference at Penn to Examine Role of Anchor Institutions in the Revitalization of American Cities

PHILADELPHIA -- The role of anchor institutions in the renaissance of American cities will be discussed at the Urban Anchors in the 21st Century national conference Oct. 8-9.  More than 200 urban professionals, scholars, policymakers, students and others will gather at the University of Pennsylvania with more than 60 national experts in urban affairs.

Anchor institutions such as universities, hospitals, museums, libraries, performing-arts centers and sports facilities are critical revitalization partners because they are geographically rooted and are frequently the leading employers in their cities as well as major forces in their neighborhoods.

The Penn Urban Research Institute will convene the two-day conference beginning at 9 a.m., Monday, Oct. 8, in Houston Hall on the Penn campus.  Participants will discuss issues unique to education and medical facilities, arts and culture institutions and sports and entertainment venues and how they relate to their home cities.  Also to be discussed will be how their need to expand and develop influences their neighbors.

Participants will include Henry Cisneros, chairman of CityView companies, former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and former mayor of San Antonio; Manuel Diaz, mayor of Miami; and Mark Mallory, mayor of Cincinnati.

"The Urban Anchors in the 21st Century conference," Eugenie Birch, co-director of the Penn IUR, said, "is an unprecedented and exciting collaboration among national organizations to join anchor-institution leaders and researchers in serious conversations that will advance knowledge, practice and public policy in this cutting-edge area of urban development.  It will stimulate ongoing work and new relationships among the participants, and Penn IUR's planned publication of its proceedings will ensure its lasting impact."

Birch is a professor of urban research and education in Penn's School of Design.  

The conference will conclude Tuesday afternoon with a look at the future influence of anchor institutions, followed by a two-hour tour of anchor institutions in Philadelphia.   

Also, the Penn Institute for Urban Research will announce a three-year commitment to a Roundtable on Anchor Institutions featuring an annual assemblage of well-positioned anchor institutions and other private- and public-sector leaders for collaboration on problem solving and best practices.  

Co-sponsors of the conference are Bank of America, Penn's Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships, CEOs for Cities, the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Knight Foundation, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Additional information and a complete conference schedule are available at