Marquette’s commitment to the scholarship of engagement

This week, several Marquette affiliates traveled to San Diego to attend the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) Annual Conference. CUMU gathers university constituents to discuss the power behind urban universities.

Rana Altenburg, associate vice president of public affairs and president of Near West Side Partners Inc., believes in the power of community partnerships. In a brief Q&A, she discussed Marquette’s involvement with CUMU, Near West Side Partners and how more Marquette students can get involved.

Why is Marquette University attending the CUMU Conference?

Marquette joined CUMU when Dr. Michael Lovell became president of the university. He was involved with CUMU at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and encouraged Marquette’s participation. CUMU allows for urban universities to become more engaged in their cities and provides a forum with colleagues around the country facing similar challenges. That mutual exchange of ideas leads to sustainable outcomes. Marquette is an anchor institution of Near West Side Partners and is a prime leader of the anchor institution model.

We want people here in the Near West Side to be able to stay here and have better conditions with better opportunities. CUMU is an organization that provides that support and those best practices for a university like Marquette to live out its mission.

Marquette and Near West Side Partners research is presented at CUMU.

What have been some standout accomplishments of Near West Side Partners? 

The scholarship of engagement is priority. The Ambassador Program, based off BID 21’s model, has been integral in the creation of trust among community members. The Ambassadors are from the Near West Side, and they know people, so they have been a great liaison between Near West Side residents and businesses.  

When thinking about safety, we’re doing a lot, but we can’t do it ourselves. President Lovell’s leadership role with the anchor institutions brought leaders together to create Near West Side Partners and he tapped me to help be part of it. It is one of the greatest joys of my job and I am so proud of the university for being such a leader in this space.

How can Marquette students get more involved?

Having a robust CAMPus Impact group helps tremendously with involvement. This peer-to-peer support makes students think on a larger scale off campus.  

Take advantage of the opportunities offered in the Center for Peacemaking. 

The more faculty look to the Near West Side and Milwaukee area for their research and give students the opportunity to engage with that research, the better the outcomes we could have for Near West Side Partners and the Near West Side.  

Community engagement takes our mission to a whole new level, and it reflects what CUMU stands for: using the intellectual resources of Marquette to improve our community.