Linking the College with the Town

Jun 6, 2012

In college towns, locals are often in conflict with school officials and students.  An organization dedicated to eliminating such conflict holds its annual conference this week at Eastern Kentucky University.  Kim Griffo, who’s executive director of the International Town and Gown Association, sees a lot of friction between students and their neighbors.

In such cases, she says bringing students and residents into the same room is key.

“We get the students at the table with the neighbors. Get them to where they make eye contact with `em, and so they know they’re all part of the same neighborhood and they’re sharing that space,” said Griffo.

Griffo says much of their work now focuses on building partnerships between university researchers and local employers.

“We want these students have jobs when they graduate. That’s important and keeping all these anchor economies and the economic engines within these college towns collaborating and working together is key,” said Griffo.

In Richmond, where this week’s conference is underway, Griffo says there’s a very good relationship between Eastern Kentucky University and its neighbors.  But, she says, perhaps the best relationship is in Louisville, where schools work with employers on training a workforce. 

“I have to say probably one of the strongest that I have seen is with the City of Louisville and how they work with their community college systems there…UPS, Brown Foreman, all of those big entitiess” said Griffo.

The conference runs through Friday.