Principle 5: Collective Impact
Collective impact is defined by Kania and Kramer (2011) as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration” (p. 36). WP and the MCE program have become respected educational partners. We have been conveners of and participants in important conversations. We have been a resource in various capacities. However, the degree to which our endeavors are helpfully structured toward common measurable goals varies. We have shown great strength in some areas. In others, related to my commentary above, we still need to improve. Sometimes the needed improvement comes from role-identification.
Informed by the self-study research process, I do not think we can yet identify ourselves as an anchor institution. Yamamura and Koth defined an anchor institution as one with a strategy that “extends beyond academic service-learning and student volunteerism. As Hodges and Dubb ... highlight, ‘it is a strategic re-orientation of a university mission to focus its resources [academic and non-academic] ... to assist in community economic development and local problem-solving work’” (Hodges & Dubb, 2012, p. XX, quoted in Yamamura & Koth, 2018, pp. 7-8). We are not an anchor institution. We arc also not »or an anchor institution. We are something in between. We play an important role in our neighborhood. But we arc also, perhaps, not fully anchoring. Being truly anchoring is a partial desire of ours and perhaps part of the answer of what it means to be an engaged institutional neighbor. We have the potential to be an anchoring institution in a network or constellation of others in the midst of a neighborhood that is changing as gentrification and economic centers shift to the corridor most near to us. However, a tentative moment for higher education places this role at risk. This tentativeness is even more true in a context where the value of higher education, as Collins and Clanton (2018) have assessed, has been primarily marketed as a value for individuals and their families and not through the lenses of the collective, communal, and/or social benefits of higher education. All of these dynamics have financial implications. They also carry imagination and perception implications. What need do we meet? What benefits do we offer for the community as a whole? There are many ready answers to these questions. How do our communities answer them?