By Roger Kemp
The first-ever UniTown Network Conference was held Oct 2-4 at the University of Ferrara in the City of Ferrara, located in northeast Italy. It was designed for representatives of over a dozen universities and municipalities from throughout the European Union.
Both the Mayor of the City of Ferrara and the President of the University of Ferrara opened up this session. The goal was to discuss best practices in the dynamic and evolving field of town (municipalities) -gown (universities) relations.
Many university and public officials talked about joint town-gown best practices in their respective communities from throughout Europe. The goal is to initiate a UniTown Network website, to codify information in this field, and to come up with a listing of world-wide online town-gown resources.
Uni-Town associates 13 universities from Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands. Aim of the association is to analyze and face the challenges the European economic crisis and the new strategies to overcome it pose to the university towns.
Basic objectives are of the conference were:
Roger Kemp, PhD, ICMA-CM, a faculty member at the University of New Haven gave a keynote speech titled “Town and Gown Beat and Evolving Practices.” His presentation was based on the research for his latest book Town and Gown Relations: A Handbook of Best Practices (McFarland and Co., Inc., 2013). This volume focused on the best town-gown practices in North America (the US and Canada).
This is a first for the European Union. And the UniTown Network is the first multi-national organization of its type in the world! Their efforts will certainly help bring forth best practices, and make this information available to other town-gown officials throughout the world in the near future.
Roger Kemp was a city manager in three states (CA, NJ + CT) during his public service career. He also served as an adjunct professor while serving as a city manager. He is past-president of the Monterey Bay Chapter of ASPA (CA) and the State of CT Chapter of ASPA. He is presently a Practitioner in Residence, Department of Public Management, University of New Haven