As the University has grown, so has the number of our connections and contributions to the vitality of the region. Every day, the University makes significant economic, educational, social, and cultual contributions to the Rochester community and to the state.

The University provides essential benefits to the public through our core missions—patient care, research, teaching, and community health. Fulfilling these missions without both public and private support would be impossible. We serve this community best by focusing on these missions. As a result, we are one of the leading higher education and research institutions in the world today and play an active role in creating positive change in our local community.

Institutions of higher education have an obvious vested interest in building strong relationships with the communities that surround their campuses. They do not have the option of relocating and thus are of necessity place-based anchors. While corporations, businesses, and residents often flee from economically depressed low-income urban and suburban edge-city neighbourhood, universities remain. At a time when foundations that help establish community-based projects are commonly unable to continue with ongoing involvement over long periods of time, universities can play an important role. Universities are inherently an important potential institutional base for helping community-based economic development in general, and civically engaged development in particular. The question is how to tap this potential in a major way.

Despite such positive examples, however, many thoughtful individuals who have sought to engage universities in community building activities have come away skeptical that this can be achieved. Universities often seem like walled-off cities with special, narrow concerns to those who have dealt with them, either from the perspective of a poor community, or from those who seek to help achieve community development goals.