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Interdisciplinary UMB Group Shares Findings on Urban Renewal

An interdisciplinary group of President's Fellows has presented its findings on urban renewal and a white paper, "The University of Maryland as a Baltimore Neighbor: Work and Play Toward a Healthier Future."

The white paper grew out of the fellows' research and the information shared in a speakers' series that was part of the President's Symposium and White Paper Project, a joint initiative of the President's Office and the Office of Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

"The white paper seeks to bring to life the president's vision for interprofessional collaboration at the University of Maryland and, in the process, leverage the institution's unique portfolio of disciplines to position the University as a thought leader on important contemporary issues affecting it and its community," said Roger Ward, EdD, JD, MPA, , associate vice president of academic affairs.

President Jay A. Perman, MD, launched the project last fall and challenged the fellows to engage faculty, staff, students, and experts in a yearlong conversation on urban renewal. The interdisciplinary team, representing four of UMB's six schools, was charged with crafting a white paper that offers the student perspective. The group presented its findings on April 17 at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center.

In the paper, the fellows suggest designating a center to serve as the hub for campus community engagement and partnership development. As one of two multidisciplinary goals, such a center would facilitate neighborhood outreach. The second is to develop a student-run clinic to provide appropriate-level public health services in addition to social and legal services.

The 2011-2012 fellows, pictured above from left to right, are Michael DeWane, an MD/MPH candidate who is completing studies in epidemiology at the School of Medicine; Jeffrey Clark, a master's degree student at the School of Social Work who has a placement in the Social Work Community Outreach Service; Nikola Nable-Juris, a third-year student at the Francis King Carey School of Law, whose interests include reproductive justice and affordable housing; Jennifer Jarin, who is pursuing a master's degree at the School of Nursing, with a specialty in community and public health nursing and a certification in environmental health; and Catherine Wolkow, a former research scientist who entered the School of Nursing in hopes of translating discoveries to improved patient care.

The sixth fellow, Michael Raykher, a third-year student at the Carey School of Law who has been active in the University Student Government Association, was studying in Namibia at the time of the event.

The President's Symposium and White Paper Project will select up to 10 stipend fellows during the 2012- 2013 academic year to address the topic of civility as a core instructional value. Applications are being sought through June 15.

The 2011-12 White Paper explores the University of Maryland's role as a neighbor in Westside and other parts of West Baltimore through the perspective of the student body, which engages the community through in-field academic experiences, as volunteers in schools and local projects, as residents, and as shoppers. It identifies key issues impacting the success of neighborhood development in the area of public health and wellness.

The issues are safety; green space and recreation; economic and commercial development; residential development; and education. These priorities emerged in part through a survey of 993 UMB students, of whom 469 reside on or near the University's downtown Baltimore campus. About two-thirds are female, and more than three-fourths of respondents are under age 30.

Regarding safety, the white paper suggests continuing the University's efforts to reduce crime rates on and around campus and to improve perceptions of safety. The intent would be to encourage a greater number of UMB students and others to live and engage in recreation in the area. Related goals are to enhance green space and locations for picnics, gardening, and exercise.

"How can we extend the benefits of green space to our neighbors?" asked Jarin, stating the rhetorical question that underlies recommendations in the white paper to involve West Baltimore residents in healthy outdoor activities such as a UMB community garden.

In the economic and commercial category, the white paper calls for making a transition from a 9-to-5 campus to a 24-hour community environment though steps such as fostering better retail and healthy eating options. The goals involving residential development are intertwined.

Regarding education, the white paper urges support of primary and secondary schools through strengthened connections that will benefit both the University and the city's public schools.

A group of University and Baltimore City stakeholders, including Brian Greenan, MA, the Westside coordinator for the Mayor's Office of Economic and Neighborhood Development, attended the fellows' presentation, which was facilitated by Courtney Jones, MBA, director of interprofessional service-learning & student initiatives at the University.

Ward, in welcoming the guests, said, "My hope is that this will become an annual event and a valued institutional tradition that the University's leadership comes to rely on as another vehicle through which it solicits valuable student input and perspective on important issues facing the University. "

Posting Date: 05/16/2012
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu