Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Master planning and scenario planning in the face of economic problems in higher education

I have a couple pieces:

-- "Revisiting stories: community culture master plans should include an element on higher education institutions," 2017
-- "Should community culture master plans include elements on higher education arts programs?," 2016

about cultural master planning and including an element on higher education institutions within a community that are providing arts and design education.

Separately, this piece discusses the need for special review processes when cultural institutions seek to sell or close facilities:

-- "When BTMFBA isn't enough: keeping civic assets public through cy pres review," 2016

Localities need to be engaged in case "bad things happen."  Proactively.

This is tricky because technically localities have little say in these processes, because oversight is housed at the state and national scale (through accreditation processes). 

And financial institutions providing working capital to the schools have a disproportionate say in merger and continuation decisions ("Mount Ida President Defends Himself," Inside Higher Education).

Colleges and universities tend to be important economic development engines in local economies, although the fact that most don't pay taxes create financial problems for localities too ("Boston Institutions Fall Short — Again — On City-Requested Payments," WBUR-FM/NPR)).

A past mayor in Providence proposed a head tax on students as a way to make up for revenue shortfalls that result ("Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island calls for tax on students at Brown," New York Daily News).

That's an issue in New England, Vermont and Massachusetts especially, where a number of small liberal arts colleges have been closing ("Green Mountain College tried numerous strategies but is still closing," Inside Higher Education).

But the problems are hardly limited to New England such as the closure of a music college in St. Paul, Minnesota ("Emotions run high as McNally Smith College of Music graduates final class," Minneapolis Star Tribune).

And with the failure of a national chain of for profit colleges which abruptly closed in the last couple of weeks ("Argosy University closing leaves students in limbo: 'We're sinking," Chicago Sun-Times).

In Massachusetts, the Governor has proposed legislation providing more oversight and involvement for private colleges facing closure ("Baker wants increased state oversight of private colleges," Boston Globe).

-- "Survival of the Smartest: Vermont's Colleges Must Adapt as Pool of Potential Students Declines," Seven Days)

Having read some of the coverage last year, concerning the closure of Mount Ida College and others, it turns out to be very complicated.

Last minute hitches can end up dooming an institution.

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