White Paper Wrap Up
The President’s Fellows gave an impressive wrap-up presentation on April 13 of their yearlong White Paper project. Titled “UMB Community Engagement in West Baltimore: When is the Wedding?” the presentation raised many interesting points and thoughtful recommendations for the crowd of 70-plus that packed a room at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center.
The 2014-2015 President’s Fellows — Alisha Ellis (Carey School of Law), Jessica Galang (School of Nursing), Emily Smith Goering (School of Social Work/Graduate School), Dorothy Kenny (School of Medicine), Maurice Mayo (School of Social Work), Emily Meyer (School of Dentistry), and Jazmyn Thompson (School of Medicine) — each took part in the 45-minute presentation, which was followed by an enthusiastic question-and-answer session.
University President Jay A. Perman, MD, opened the presentation by thanking the students and the co-sponsors, the Center for Community-Based Engagement and Learning (CBEL) and the Office of Interprofessional Learning and Service Initiatives, and welcoming a visiting group from Haifa University in Israel. He also thanked UMB’s partners in West Baltimore.
“I’d like to specifically acknowledge the many residents of West Baltimore who shared their thoughts on the University’s efforts to date — and how, together, we might accelerate progress going forward,” Perman said. “A credible paper was possible only with our neighbors’ open and candid contributions.”
Challenges & Opportunities for Community Engagement
The President’s Fellows discussed the process, the history of UMB and West Baltimore, current challenges/opportunities, community perspectives, current engagement efforts, and what other universities are doing.
The topic of engagement naturally led into a wedding analogy, with Mayo saying you want to learn all you can about your significant other before entering into such a relationship.
Ellis likewise quoted Kim Richards of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, who was one of six speakers in the 2014-2015 President’s Symposium Lecture Series at UMB. Richards said:
“‘Engagement’ is used to get points. University will engage with data, will engage with statistics, but will not engage with the people … even if they get to the point of engagement, there is no wedding. To get to the point of the wedding, it takes both parties to have a shared recognition of what the problem is.”
At the end of the presentation, the President’s Fellows gave their recommendations:
Short-term goal: Institutional power analysis workshop for students, faculty, and staff receiving a CBEL grant
Long-term goal: Mandatory power analysis and privilege workshop for all students, faculty, and staff across UMB schools
Sustainability and Expansion
Short-term goals: Identify funding from corporate foundations; identify funding from private foundations; take ownership of the CAN database system
Long-term goals: Create an Urban Extension Center modeled after Drexel’s Dornsife Center; fund programming that is modeled on Just Advice (Carey School of Law program); hire a community engagement project manager and a communications manager
Organization and Communication
Short-term goals: Hire a student to manage mapping system, advertise system to UMB community, encourage faculty to keep system up-to-date and relevant
Long-term goal: Create a more structured online space at UMB within five years
Organization, Communication and Visibility
Short-term goal: Create a community engagement advisory structure or “leadership table”
Long-term goal: UMB and its schools will have concrete lines of communication with West Baltimore community stakeholders within five years
Then, keeping with the “wedding” theme, everyone in the room was asked to recite community engagement “vows” shown on a screen.
Said Perman: “I assure you that UMB is working toward much more than a wedding. Because, if you do it right, community engagement is a marriage — a long, mutually enriching marriage. And that’s the goal that guides us.”
The President’s Symposium and White Paper Project is an interprofessional initiative that engages faculty, staff, and students from all UMB schools and academic programs in a yearlong conversation on a topic that is of interest and importance to the University and its community. Previous topics include urban renewal (2011-2012), civility (2012-2013), and interprofessional education (2013-2014).