An editorial in today’s Republican (“UMass can help city of Springfield“) applauds UMass Chancellor Holub’s renewed commitment to Springfield in the “Outreach” section of his new “Framework for Excellence” report (see p.22). We’re excited about it, too. Harnessing the resources of this region’s entire higher ed community for the benefit of Springfield and the region is central to the mission of The Springfield Institute. The goal is more meaningful, and more mutually beneficial, relationships between the research community and neighborhoods. “Mutually beneficial” means including a broad spectrum of community stakeholders in planning and implementation; and making sure results make it back to the community, and that there is local capacity to interpret and apply those results.
We’ve also noticed that having a physical and permanent home for The Springfield Institute–right downtown–is another important sign of commitment, and a way to (re-)build trust and credibility. Our vision is for this place to become a hub for new ideas, new energy, and new ways to participate in social change.
When thirty Somalis were here last Sunday planning the future of their community; or when the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative and MassInc were here yesterday discussing their “Springfield 2030” research and ways to collaborate; or when the Davis Foundation comes to talk about their early childhood education research on May 19th; we feel like we’re headed in the right direction.
The growing list of schools that have been supportive of The Springfield Institute, and in many cases have really committed themselves, include:
- UMass-Springfield Partnership
- UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative
- Amherst College Center for Community Engagement
- Springfield College School for Human Services
- Baypath College Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy Graduate Program
- Western New England School of Law
The Chancellor’s Framework for Excellence is just a statement of vision, so the Republican’s comment that “The ways that concern can be turned into action are sketchy” may be a little misplaced, but I can certainly understand where they’re coming from. Those historically illusive “ways” are what The Springfield Institute is all about.
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