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VCU Among 2009 Survey of Nation’s Top 25 “Best Neighbor” Colleges and Universities

Virginia Commonwealth University has been named a Top 25 “best neighbor” university for a second time in a national survey that recognizes revitalization, cultural renewal, economics and community service and development.

The current state of the U.S. economy makes the economic relationship between institutions of higher education and their local communities more important than ever, said Evan S. Dobelle, president of Westfield State College, who made the announcement in Philadelphia on Monday during his presentation, “Saviors of Our Cities: A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships.”

The University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California tied for the No. 1 position. VCU was in the No. 11 spot.

“Colleges and universities, as well as the towns and cities in which they are located, are now under severe economic pressures,” Dobelle said. “The positive financial impact of higher education on local communities is well-documented.

“Increasingly, more sophisticated partnerships are emerging that are addressing complex issues such as homelessness and health care and are serving as
catalysts for community change,” Dobelle said. “Colleges and universities are doing more and more to support their local communities, and it is a win-win situation for both.”

The survey pointed to VCU’s implementation of a nationally recognized engagement program, “VCU Community Solutions,” that included the 2008 40th anniversary “40 Acts of Caring” awards to projects, activities or initiatives that partnered VCU employees, students or alumni with local, regional or national/international communities.

Among the VCU projects cited was the Carver-VCU Partnership. Carver is the community that borders VCU on the north. The Carver Partnership is designed to create a shared urban community with a commitment to improving the neighborhood’s quality of life including its health, community development, youth development, safety and neighborhood school.

Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU, said the recognition was particularly meaningful because VCU places such a high value on its role as a community partner and as an economic engine.

“This honor is a reflection of VCU’s long-standing commitment to community engagement and the belief that VCU has an important role in enriching the lives of the residents of the communities in which it serves,” Rao said.

VCU also was recognized in 2006.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.