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Penn and OU-Tulsa Collaborate in Community Schools Effort
November 17, 2009, Volume 56, No. 12



The University of Pennsylvania Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships selected the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa as its first regional training center on university-assisted community schools back in February. An official agreement was signed during the inaugural Community Schools regional conference, held by OU-Tulsa last week. Dr. Ira Harkavy, founding director and associate vice president of the Netter Center, was in attendance at the conference, where institutions from across the region shared strategies for linking higher education to high schools through internships, career access and academically-based service learning opportunities.

“As the universities work with the public schools and we create this regional center, we will be helping universities fulfill their promise and American schools fulfill their promise. We will educate our students better so America can fulfill its promise to be a fair, decent and just society for all Americans,” said Dr. Harkavy.

The training center will be part of the new OU-Tulsa Center for Community Engagement, which will serve as the focal point for deepening OU-Tulsa’s involvement with the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative and a broad range of other community efforts. The training center will lead higher education institutions in the immediate Tulsa area to increase their engagement in community schools. The center will also provide training and technical assistance to interested universities and their school and community partners in a five-state region that includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“OU-Tulsa is honored to partner with the University of Pennsylvania Netter Center in this exciting effort,” said OU-Tulsa President Gerard Clancy. “Community engagement is a core component of our mission, and we engage in that mission every day through graduate programs in medicine, social work, education and more. This opportunity will allow us to expand that commitment, working in other collaborations to build better schools, stronger families, and healthier communities. Our hope is that the engagement of a university with the community leads to an urban revitalization that is so desperately needed.”

“OU-Tulsa has demonstrated a significant commitment to its Tulsa community,” said Dr. Harkavy. “Under the leadership of Dr. Gerry Clancy, OU-Tulsa is broadly engaging the university’s resources, particularly its faculty, students and staff, in a range of mutually beneficial partnerships with the Tulsa community. The Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) is an outstanding example.”

University-assisted community schools are designed to function as neighborhood “hubs” or “centers,” that offer comprehensive programs, services and opportunities to students, families and community members. The Netter Center emphasizes university-assisted because community schools require far more resources than traditional schools and because universities are strategic sources of comprehensive support for community schools.

OU-Tulsa is a founding charter member of The Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative, created in 2008. Community schools provide a variety of services depending on school needs. Community schools report positive outcomes in school attendance and reduced suspensions.

“OU-Tulsa has been a major contributor to the development of Tulsa’s community schools through the school-based health clinics, neighborhood planning, developing new projects such as Neighborhood Kitchens, and serving on the TACSI management team,” said Dr. Harkavy. “Other universities, colleges and their community and school affiliates in the southwest region will benefit greatly from learning about the OU-Tulsa association with TACSI.”

Almanac - November 17, 2009, Volume 56, No. 12