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An Urgent Need for Public Engagement

President addresses international group of university leaders on higher education's ability and responsibility to help close the “education attainment gap.”

President Jones interacts with Hackett Middle School children at an Albany Promise "cradle to career" event in 2013.

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 3, 2015) — Today, President Jones will address an international assemblage of university leaders about increasing higher education’s role in public engagement in the preschool to grade 12 arena. He will speak alongside Professor Hal Lawson of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University-Assisted Community Schools Conference, held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships.

The President will discuss the need for universities to help close the “education attainment gap,” which he says is fed by a concentration of poverty and income inequity, especially in cities.

UAlbany’s Commitment to Public Engagement

President Jones will highlight areas of UAlbany’s commitment to addressing this issue. His recent appointment of Darrell Wheeler as dean of the School of Social Welfare and Vice Provost for Public Engagement, underscores his belief that a university must associate its public engagement initiatives “with the academic side of the house.”

“Moving public engagement to academic affairs is already elevating our engagement portfolio and creating new opportunities in the community,” the President has said.

He will also point to the University’s host role in the Albany Promise Cradle-to-Career partnership, which has increased SAT participation in Albany schools by 29 percent. He will reaffirm his commitment to expanding the Promise beyond the City of Albany to a larger regional scale. The Promise was developed as part of a larger strategy adopted by the Capital Region Economic Development Council to address pockets of urban and rural poverty.

In addition, the President will expand on UAlbany’s partnership with community organizations in the Capital South Campus Center, where last summer our Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) convened 30 EOP students for a social justice experiential learning program. This spring, the School of Criminal Justice will host a community justice course for UAlbany students.

While the President will acknowledge these and other strides made at UAlbany — including a coming regional Center of Innovation in Education, “which will become a SUNY hub for advancing teacher education” — he will express his desire to import some key cross-sector partnerships he was a part of at the University of Minnesota, including a college readiness consortium to increase the number of college-ready students, and a statewide principal’s preparation academy. Because as he has stated, “we must also be training school building leaders who can lead schools to high performance and college readiness.”

The President plans to conclude his talk by conveying a sense of urgency, “about the magnitude of the challenge — and the impact we can have if we engage deeply and bring our best assets to the table.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.