Marquette one of five universities in nation selected for the 2016 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award

July 21, 2016

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University has been selected to receive the 2016 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award for the Near West Side Partners initiative and several other partnerships that address issues of public concern.

Marquette is just one of five universities and colleges nationwide to receive the honor among more than 100 nominations. The award is being presented by The Washington Center, an independent, nonprofit organization that provides students opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C., for academic credit.

"As a Catholic and Jesuit Institution, an important aspect of our mission is to make a significant impact in our community," Marquette President Michael R. Lovell said. "This award signifies that we are making strides toward fulfilling that mission."

Among the initiatives is Near West Side Partners, a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 by Marquette and four other anchor institutions — Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson, MillerCoors and Potawatomi Business Development Corp. — to revitalize and sustain Milwaukee's Near West Side as a thriving residential and business corridor.

Lovell and then-Harley president and CEO Keith Wandell met to discuss a recent neighborhood crisis, and concluded they needed to involve the other longstanding anchor businesses. Lovell then convened senior leadership from more than 30 organizations in the Near West Side to develop a community partnership that has benchmarked best practices locally and nationally, visiting and studying neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Based upon the research, the initiative has tailored approaches and practices to affect change that is systemic and sustainable in the community.

Nearly 25 departments at Marquette are committed to the effort, including trustee and working team leadership, faculty research, and student interns and volunteers. In addition, a project administered by a Marquette committee, Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime, works directly with the initiative to address safety issues, neighborhood identity and branding, housing, and commercial corridor development.

"We're proud that Marquette University calls Milwaukee's Near West Side its home and proud of its long-standing commitment to making the Near West Side the best place to live, work and play in Milwaukee," said Keith Stanley, executive director of Near West Side Partners. "Marquette's leadership and vision were essential to the development of this unprecedented partnership."

The partnership recently received the Esther-Letven Community-Campus Partnership Award from the Wisconsin Campus Compact, and has been featured at several local and national conferences.

At the same time, Marquette is involved in several other community partnerships. Other initiatives include:

  • In 2015, Marquette received $9.9 million through corporate, foundation, state and federal grants to conduct community-engaged research and provide service to address community-based issues in Milwaukee.
  • Marquette invests more than $17 million worth of work annually in the city through its centers, clinics (dental, legal and health), institutes and programs, and through the Marquette University Police Department, where 90 percent of its work is in the public right of way at a cost of more than $5 million annually.
  • In 2014-15, a total of 7,908 undergraduate and graduate students did 553,398 service hours, or about 70 hours each, working in the community.
  • Marquette formed Hunger Cleanup more than 25 years ago. In 2016, the student-led initiative had 1,433 volunteers serving at 70 sites, representing 42 partnerships, and provided $12,000 in grants to local nonprofits.
  • The university's Service Learning Program connects approximately 1,200-1,300 students to more than 110 community organizations and nonprofits each semester.
  • Established in 2016, the university's new Office of Community Engagement serves as the central clearinghouse for community engagement activities, with a focus on community research partnerships.

Lovell is expected to accept the award at a luncheon and gala in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26.

For more information, contact Joe DiGiovanni, senior communication specialist, at (414) 288-6712.