Today's higher education is all about collaboration. Or, it should be. And, in Chicago, there are many institutions of higher education, with a variety of missions and a wide array of kinds of students that are served. In the South Loop, for example, there are well over 50,000 students. Across our institutions there are a range of collaborations -- both specific ones bringing together faculty around topics of mutual interest and other collaborations resulting from contiguity. We share, for example, concerns about the budgetary situation in Illinois as all of us have students who benefit from MAP grants (which have not been funded this fiscal year, thereby damaging low income students across the state). And, of course, as Chicago institutions we share concerns and opportunities associated with Chicago itself. What, for example, is the impact of our reputation for violence on our capacities to recruit and support students? In what ways are the amazing cultural and social opportunities in Chicago part of why students choose Chicago and Chicagoland institutions over other possibilities?
Some of us think of Boston as a city filled with students and higher education. Others of us think of Philadelphia. What about Chicago? Here in this city we educate over 200,000 students annually and make a sizable contribution to the local economy. Hence, the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding amongst a variety of our institutions -- DePaul, IIT, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Saint Xavier, School of the Art Institute, and Shimer College, for example. Our point? That we ought to ensure that when folks think of Chicago, they think of higher education and that when we educate our students we think seriously about the impact of their education for the public good, including Chicago's public good.
If you want to know more about the collaboration called America's Urban Campus, click here. (And yes, the website will be updated to include Shimer!)