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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Partners For Progress: A New Presidential Initative

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach announced the third major Initiative of her 3 ½ year presidency today, focusing on the university and its relationship to the surrounding community.

In an eight-point policy address she discussed student housing issues and student behavior in residential neighborhoods.  Building on current programs and creating new ones, she listed several actions to improve University-community relations including the creation of a Town-Gown Council, expansion of programs to make college students feel more welcomed in the community and, in turn, University efforts to make local residents feel more welcomed on campus.  The President also pledged money for additional SU scholarships for high school, community college and adult students in Wicomico County.

Below is a summary of the eight-point program:

1. Increase student housing.  The University has been proactive in creating more residential living space at University Park, a public-private partnership that opened in 1999 on the campus periphery with 576 beds, and in encouraging private efforts to build additional student housing projects such as:  Phase II of University Park—318 beds, expected to open in fall 2004; the Onley Road project—588 beds, a few blocks from campus; Phase I of Cedar Lane project—576 beds, scheduled for fall 2005; and a potential Downtown project—144-248 beds, in the discussion stage. In addition, funding for a new campus residence hall—250 beds, is being sought in Annapolis.

2. Enhance student interactions with the larger community.  “Safe Choices” was a two-year program in the north Camden and Princeton homes neighborhoods where student leaders paired up with community block captains, to form teams which served as liaison between local residents and their student neighbors.  This concept will be expanded to other neighborhoods.  The tentative name of the new program is “Neighborhoods that Rock:  Building Respect Between Residents and Students.”  The University would also like to see the City’s “Party on the Plaza” expanded into an annual festival.  This local back-to-school/welcoming event brought many students to Salisbury’s downtown for the first time.

3. Identify ways to mentor proper student /neighborhood behavior.   A new town-gown Web site will highlight what is being done at SU to promote good relationships with the larger community.  Hotlines and outreach to each neighborhood when a particular issue or problem arises will be available. The Web site will also provide information, such as the Salisbury Area Property Owners Association (SAPOA) brochure “How to Become a Good Neighbor 101.”  An orientation program for students desiring to live off campus will be established.  Those who complete the workshop will earn the “Good Neighbor Program Seal of Approval” and the University will ask landlords to consider how they might reward renters who have received this certification.  The SU Student Government Association and Office of Student Affairs will ensure that SU’s student code of conduct and disciplinary procedures are understood by all students and observed.

4. Establish a Town/Gown Council. This would meet on a regular basis to discuss larger issues between the community and University.  Potential topics include a "live near your work” program to provide incentives for faculty and staff to purchase homes in close proximity to the University.  Other areas of potential collaboration include community projects and volunteer services. Such a council will provide a framework for increased partnerships with the business community.

5. Work to resolve friction between students and area residents.  The University will establish a position of ombudsman, perhaps a graduate student, who would work with individual neighbors and conduct “living room meetings ” to address resident concerns.  SU’s Center for Conflict Resolution will provide training and guidance for those on campus and in the community who are working as neighborhood liaisons.  Also, SU’s 7,000 alumni living in Wicomico County will be enlisted to help in resolving local resident-student issues.

6. Develop multifaceted community recreational and educational opportunities at SU that will bring more local citizens and their children to campus on a regular basis.  The possibilities include increased summer programs for community children, non-credit adult programs in areas such as dance, art and swimming, an after-school enrichment program, a summer day camp, a “Fun Day” University open house, a joint community/campus concert on the Holloway Hall lawn, and a free movie day, among others.

7. Promote ways in which the Salisbury University Police can work effectively with other police departments.  Currently there is a memorandum of understanding between SU Police, the city of Salisbury, the Sheriff’s Office, Fruitland and State Police that provides for mutual assistance among police departments.  The University will renew its efforts with the other police forces to see how, in partnership, all can enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the University and promote crime awareness and public safety.

8. Provide scholarships earmarked for local high school students. Today, 1,106 undergraduate students come from Wicomico County. A new $2,000 scholarship will be made available annually to a freshman who graduated from James M. Bennett, Wicomico, Parkside or Mardela high schools, and a $2,000 scholarship to a Wor-Wic Community college graduate.  A $1,000 scholarship will be given to a Salisbury area adult who lacks a bachelor’s degree but wishes to attend SU.  Efforts will be made to expand the Shore Scholars Program, so more local students will choose SU for their higher education.

Dudley-Eshbach’s two previous Presidential Initiatives have been on shared governance and diversity. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.


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