Universities don't want to be saviors

Nate Berg at the Atlantic Cities:

“We really can’t believe that universities can save cities,” said Gene Block, chancellor at the University of California Los Angeles. He argues that even though universities contribute to a city’s culture and economy, they can’t be fully relied upon to solve major foundational problems should they arise.

I think Block and his fellow panelists are being a bit disingenuous. Many state universities were founded with the purpose of disseminating know-how that would help the region prosper. For many public university systems, that was back in the 1800s when the economy revolved around agriculture, mining, and forestry. Many universities retain such extension programs, but haven’t done much to develop analogous departments that focus on cities. Side-stepping the issue like this shows a lack of imagination.

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