Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in An Age of Education Reform : Civil Society, Public Schools, and Democratic Citizenship

By Lee Benson; Ira Harkavy et al. | Go to book overview

6
The Center for Community
Partnerships

The University and the City are important to one
another. We stand on common ground, our futures
very much intertwined
.

SHELDON HACKNEY, PRESIDENT'S ANNUAL REPORT
(1987–1988)

ENCOURAGED BY THE SUCCESS of the university's increasing engagement with West Philadelphia, in July 1992 President Hackney created the Center for Community Partnerships. To highlight the importance he attached to the center, he located it in the office of the president and appointed Ira Harkavy to be its director, while Harkavy continued to serve as director of the Penn Program for Public Service, created in 1988 in the School of Arts and Sciences. Symbolically and practically, creation of the center constituted a major change in Penn's relationship with West Philadelphia and the city as a whole. In principle, by creating the center, the university formally committed itself as a corporate entity to finding ways to use its truly enormous resources (e.g., student and faculty “human capital”) to help improve the quality of life in its local community—not only in respect to public schools but to economic and community development in general.

The center is based on the assumption that one highly effective and efficient way for Penn to simultaneously serve its enlightened institutional self-interest and carry out its academic missions of advancing universal knowledge and educating students is to function as a truly engaged, democratic, cosmopolitan, civic university. It

-93-

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