￼We are most pleased to welcome you to this glimpse of the work of USU, the Coali- tion of Urban Serving Universities. Since its inception, USU has grown from an idea discussed by a few university presidents to a vibrant organization that currently in- cludes 39 public urban research universities across the nation and works with a growing list of public and private partners.
The original idea of USU was based on the recognition of three fundamental truths of the 21st century. The future of the country is intimately connected to the fu- ture of its cities; urban universities play a key role in determining the direction of their communities, and these universities have a far better chance of working ef- fectively if they work together.
Just as the United States benefited greatly from the land-grant movement started in an earlier era, so will it profit from the work of public urban research universi- ties as they continue to be significant players in 21st-century prosperity.
As the USU member schools began meeting formally in 2005, we found no short- age of urban challenges to address, or university programs working to find resolu- tions. The question was how to work together for maximum impact. In subsequent meetings, we identified three overlapping objectives: educating a knowledge-based workforce, combating health disparities, and stimulating neighborhood development and regional economic growth.
Within each of these areas, USU leaders then laid out specific goals, and our or- ganization is now developing the best avenues toward meeting these goals and the most telling methods of determining progress.
This book presents a snapshot of our member schools’ engagement with their com- munities and the coalition’s progress as it stands in July 2008. We think it makes clear the critical importance of the course our USU organization has mapped out, as well as the tremendous creativity and dedication of our member institutions.
As with all endeavors toward comprehensive solutions in a complex society, the USU coalition is a work in progress – with the emphases on "work" and "progress." As we continue in both, we expect to find ourselves ever closer to fulfilling the goals we have set for our universities, our cities, and our nation.
Chair, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities President, University of Cincinnati
Vice Chair, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities President, University of Akron