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Carol Wilcox, John Glenn, Tom McRoberts at awards ceremony

Morris mayor Carol Wilcox (second from left) and Tom McRoberts (second from right), director of the Center for Small Towns, accept their Carter Partnership Awards. In between them is former Senator John Glenn.

UMM honored for campus-community collaboration

Center for Small Towns and City of Morris share Carter Partnership Award

Nov. 7, 2006

The Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM), and the City of Morris have been named recipients of the Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration. The award was presented by former Sen. John Glenn during ceremonies held Oct. 30 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration is given to one program or partnership in each state where a college or university teams up with a community group to address areas of public need. The award is named for President and Mrs. Carter as a tribute to their lifelong efforts to develop and support safe, healthy and caring communities throughout the world.

"What was unique about the nomination of the Center for Small Towns (CST) was the sustained cooperation on a host of community projects over an extended period of time," said Tom McRoberts, director of the Center for Small Towns at UMM. "This award is a tribute to former UMM chancellor David Johnson and former CST director Roger McCannon who established the Center for Small Towns... and all of the CST staff who work day-to-day."

McRoberts and Morris Mayor Carol Wilcox accepted the award on behalf of the center and Morris.

"I'm really proud to be a mayor of Morris because people just get excited about things," said Carol Wilcox. "The city is vital--and that doesn't mean we don't have problems and we don't have challenges---but we work on them, we get them done and we work together."

The partnership between the Center for Small Towns and the city of Morris has had many chapters and many successes. For example, it established the Prairie Renaissance Project, which in turn formed the Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance (PRCA), which opened a cultural center and art gallery in Morris to serve the surrounding area.

With the support of CST, the Prairie Renaissance Project also created partnerships with UMM students and faculty and the Morris schools to engage their students in community projects. Dozens of UMM students have participated in a wide range of other service-learning activities.

The center also joined with Morris area schools to complete a strategic plan, using the expertise of the UMM faculty and students. A similar approach was used to complete the comprehensive plan for the City of Morris. As a whole, these projects have contributed to the dramatic rise of civic engagement activities by UMM students.

"I'm really proud to be mayor of Morris because people just get excited about things," said Wilcox. "The City is vital--and that doesn't mean we don't have problems and we don't have challenges---but we work on them, we get them done and we work together."

The current initiative of the CST-Morris partnership is a three-year project focusing on housing, economics, community organizing and neighborhood revitalization, funded in part by a $400,000 grant from Housing and Urban Development through the national Community Outreach Partnership Centers (COPC) program. A part of the project includes the development of a model for other small, rural towns facing similar challenges.