Day 1 of Washington State University’s Land-Grant 2019 Symposium centered on the topic of healthy campus-community (town-gown) relationships. Approximately 35 campus and community representatives who had a vested interest in the relationship between the WSU Pullman campus and its host community, Pullman, WA gathered together at the WSU Welcome Center. Opening remarks were given by Paul Kimmell (Avista Corporation), and next Marie Dymkoski (co-chair of the Pullman Town-Gown Collaborative and executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce) introduced me to the audience.
Most of the initial remarks I gave were focused on the main topic of what it takes to create the healthiest (termed “harmonious”) town-gown relationships, and was based mainly on The Optimal Town-Gown Marriage book that I wrote in 2016. As seen in the graphic illustration provided here, harmonious relationships come about through the combination of high effort levels and high comfort levels on the part of both partners. All other types are thought to be sub-optimal.
We also discussed the need for data collection. Some of the work I have done in this regard with a measure known as the Optimal College Town Assessment was presented, including the more recent work on measuring certain factors related to student partying behaviors. We also discussed the mobilization cycle (as seen below) that can help guide and direct the activities of campuses and communities that become involved in such data collection efforts.
The audience actively participated in discussion surrounding a final question that I posed: what does a harmonious town-gown relationship look like when the campus partner is a land-grant university? One dominant theme expressed by community representatives was the desire to better understand what the term “land-grant” really meant. In reaction, we covered a variety of issues for further consideration, including perhaps most importantly the role that Cooperative Extension Services plays in addressing community needs. The community’s hunger for more information about land-grant universities is a significant finding to take forward into tomorrow’s proceedings.