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As I See It: Recognizing Rogers Park’s Strong Community Partner


 

In the early 1980s, while a Senior at the University of Rochester, I received shocking news. The City of Rochester announced plans to install parking meters along the stretch of Wilson Boulevard aligning the campus, the preferred area where students owning cars could park.

Determined to take action, I assumed a new role – that of ‘student activist,’ and I brought my case to the Rochester City Council, ultimately prevailing.

Admittedly (and perhaps a tad bit shamefully), I recognize that my issue did not rank among the top social issues of the day (divesting university assets invested in South Africa was then the big issue) and my campaign was clearly fueled by self-interest, as where else would I be able to park?

Yet, in my three years at Rochester, my little interaction with the Rochester City Council was one of the few a student like me would have with the urban center where our university was located. (My other interaction with Rochester involved late night jaunts to a downtown greasy spoon called Nick Tahoes, where we would eat their infamous “Garbage Plates,” – my stomach hurts just mentioning it!)

Besides these chance interaction, a student’s life was experienced nearly completely within the university’s bubble, and we had little reason to ever step out of it.

Times have changed.

Made famous by her unwavering support for Loyola basketball last spring, Sister Jean (so famous, she is depicted as a bobble head) is among LUC's great gifts to the Rogers Park and Edgewater Communities. Yet Loyola’s contribution to our neighborhood extends far beyond it’s hoops success!

Major universities located in urban centers are now attuned to the critical role that they can serve in helping improve quality of life in their local communities. Their importance is often measured by their economic impact – as students, faculty and staff spend dollars for goods and housing locally, and because top universities often incentivize corporations to want to settle in a particular city.

Beyond economic impact, many of the more enlightened universities now go further, studying and exploring their communities, and assessing what role they can have in improving people’s lives. Many Universities often invest in local public schools, gauge local health care needs, support minority and women owned businesses and advocate in favor of affordable housing and public safety. Mindful of their need to be good neighbors in the community that they call ‘home,’ more and more universities are determined to make a difference.

Rogers Park is fortunate to be home to a leading national institution - Loyola University Chicago. Their community relations staff intimately know the key players in Edgewater and Rogers Park - and they serve on key boards and they are well attuned to the issues, challenges and opportunities facing our neighborhoods.

Loyola continues to step up its efforts encouraging their students to get involved in a myriad of ways, including assisting both Sullivan and Senn High Schools and our communities’ other public schools. Earlier this year, Loyola made a generous and unprecedented contribution of $25,000 supporting an innovative health clinic at Gale Academy just north of Howard Street.

At a meeting recently hosted by LUC’s Community Relations staff, I learned that Loyola devotes considerable resources helping improve the neighborhood, and joining in partnership with other top universities developing means to best measure its engagement, all in an attempt to make the strongest, most positive impact.

We in the community can take great pleasure that we have a caring and capable partner, ready willing and able to enhance quality of life.

Now if only Loyola’s student run concessionaire can introduce a decent Garbage Plate!

 

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