1st Edition

Neighborhood Democracy Building Anchor Partnerships Between Colleges and Their Communities

By Richard Guarasci Copyright 2022
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    Higher education and America stand at a perilous moment brought about by economic and social inequality, racism, and the fracture of civic cohesion and structures. From its origins, the mission of American higher education was to promote democratic governance and a free, fair, and orderly society through the education of responsible citizens. Just as its mission has become more urgent, it is being undermined as colleges and universities find themselves trapped in a fiscal crisis that threatens their very institutional viability—a crisis in large part brought about by the very perpetuation of economic and racial inequity, and the consequent erosion of consensus about civic purpose and vision.

    This book argues that higher education can and must again take leadership in promoting the participatory processes and instilling the democratic values needed to build a vibrant and fair society. How to do that when, as Guarasci argues, a majority of colleges and universities are floundering under a business model that generates insufficient net revenue while making college unaffordable?Guarasci offers a model of civic mission and engagement whereby, through relatively modest investment, colleges can develop reciprocal partnerships with local institutions, civic, and business groups to raise the quality and outcomes of K-12 education, promote local entrepreneurship and community involvement, raise incomes, and increase the attainment of postsecondary education to benefit the wider national economy and colleges around the region and country. He demonstrates how civic engagement can revitalize communities and generate developmental and foundation funding.

    Vividly illustrated by the examples of success of students from the shadow community to which Wagner College committed its energies and resources, by the stories of the local schools and their principals, and the voices of local partners, this book offers a compelling and detailed account of what it takes to transform an institution and a neighborhood—and a model of renewal.

    A Co-Publication with AAC&U

    Foreword—Timothy K. Eatman Preface Acknowledgments 1. Democracy in Peril 2. Universities in Crisis 3. The Democratic Mission of Higher Education 4. Democratic Education and Civic Purpose 5. Making the Case for Neighborhood Partnerships 6. Models of University Neighborhood Partnerships 7. Profiles in Practice 8. Anchor Partnerships and Community Impact 9. The Role of the National Associations of Higher Education 10. Toward Neighborhood Democracy and the Engaged University About the Author Index


    Richard Guarasci was the longest-serving president of Wagner College, becoming president emeritus on his retirement in 2019. He joined the college in 1997 as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He was previously dean of Hobart College at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Prior to that he served as a faculty member and dean at St. Lawrence University, New York.He has served both as a member of the board of directors, and board chair of The Association of American Colleges & Universities, Campus Compact, The Coalition of Urban & Metropolitan Universities, The New American Colleges and Universities, New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, and Project Pericles. He has also served on the National Task Force on Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement and the Anchor Institution Task Force.

    Neighborhood Democracy is an incredibly timely and important book, which rightly highlights the interdependence between American democracy and higher education. It is incumbent upon higher education to renew its civic mission in order to strengthen an increasingly fragile democracy. Dr. Guarasci appropriately challenges higher education to take responsibility for its unique role in democratic societies. As enduring organizations remaining in their geographic areas, institutions of higher education are anchor institutions within and around neighborhoods in which the impact of a crisis in democracy and persistent inequities are experienced. As Dr. Guarasci maintains, this continuous local presence of colleges and universities is essential to how higher education can deepen democratic civic engagement with a wide array of stakeholders in neighborhoods with a special emphasis on communities of color. This responsibility is not a departure from higher education’s mission and purpose. In fact, the civic learning and practice stressed in Neighborhood Democracy is a fundamental and mutually transformative pursuit for colleges and universities in our contemporary context and into the future.”

    Dr. David Maurrasse

    Founder and President of Marga Incorporated; Director of the Anchor Institutions Task Force; Adjunct Research Scholar at the Earth Institute; Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University

    "A timely, informative, and inspirational book highlighting the importance of educating for democratic citizenship. It speaks to transformative university and community partnerships with an exciting vision to help solve society's grand challenges: climate change, education access, immigration, mass incarceration, public health, race and inequality, and voter engagement. A must read for Presidents, Provosts, and faculty who are working to develop the next generation of exceptional leaders our society needs."

    Jan Risë Liss

    Executive Director, Project Pericles

    "American democracy and our system of higher education both face perilous times. Drawing on his years of innovation and community engagement as president of Wagner College, Richard Guarasci makes a compelling case that these bedrock institutions can be revitalized through meaningful university neighborhood partnerships. Moving beyond theory to actual practice, Neighborhood Democracy is both an important call to action and a helpful guide for solution-seeking institutional leaders everywhere. Well worth reading!"

    Beverly Daniel Tatum

    President Emerita, Spelman College

    "Dr. Guarasci has show that liberal arts colleges can do remarkable good in society by developing partnerships with the community, especially communities in economic need. Guarasci shows that higher education can effect change in tangible, meaningful ways. Should be required reading for all college presidents."

    Kurt M. Landgraf

    former President of Washington College, COO of DuPont, and President of the Educational Testing Service

    "What Neighborhood Democracy does so well is provide the historical context and real-world examples to help educators understand how successful partnerships work and how the benefits to both the communities served and institutions create positive, sustaining contributions."

    Emily Holmes

    The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA, Community College Journal of Research and Practice