A new resource documents the success of public institutions that are building thriving communities as they seek sustainability through stewardship of place.

Seeking sustainability? Try ‘stewardship of place’

A new resource documents the success of public institutions that are driving regional economic development and building thriving communities

Regional comprehensive institutions hoping to chart paths to sustainability and impact should build a focus on stewardship of place, according to a new guide from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), which represents 350 public colleges, universities, and systems throughout the U.S.

A companion to the 2022 report “Recommitting to Stewardship of Place” rooted in the frontline experiences of regional comprehensive universities, the practitioner’s guide offers a blueprint for how colleges and universities can support greater civic engagement, drive a regional economic return on investment, and build thriving communities.

“In today’s challenging environment for public higher education, the most successful, vibrant institutions are often those that maintain the strongest connection to—and engagement with—the diverse communities surrounding their campuses,” said Mildred García, president of AASCU. “The imperative to connect our impact to everchanging community needs is as urgent as ever as institutions combat resource disparities, enrollment fluctuations, and the continued impacts of COVID-19’s disruptions on public higher education. Given these new challenges, stewardship of place and community requires a new sort of leadership, agility, and fresh thinking. That’s what this guide is designed to share with the field.”

The release of the new guide comes at a time when public colleges and universities continue to confront an array of challenges. While national undergraduate enrollment has begun to stabilize over the past year, many colleges and universities across the country continue to grapple with declines in student enrollment and financial volatility as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Laura Ascione

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