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This winter, relations between the University and its community have reached their highest peak in years after a multi-million dollar settlement between Harvard and the city of Boston in lieu of property taxes and renewed efforts to connect with local city officials.
But Harvard administrators are not ready to proclaim success yet. Fearing that this momentum could quickly be lost, the University has new programs in the works to pump additional money and education into the community.
Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Paul S. Grogan says the University will be announcing several joint initiatives with the city over the next year.
In the most developed of these plans, Harvard will lend its expertise to educate city administrators--a plan that has already won the support of Cambridge City Manager Robert A. Healy.
The Kennedy School of Government, the Graduate School of Design and other Harvard graduate schools already offer executive education programs to provide continuing education to public sector employees. Under the plan that Grogan hopes to unveil within the next few months, the University will make these programs available to local officials at "little or no cost," according to Grogan.
Since assuming his position in January 1999, Grogan has been the voice behind the push for improving relations between Harvard and its local community.
His background is in public service, with a particular emphasis on local communities. Before coming to Harvard, he was the president and CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nationwide, non-profit that focuses on community development. In the 1980s, he worked in Boston in the mayor's office.
Last November, Grogan's team launched the '20-20-2000' plan to loan money at low rates to non-profit housing developers in an effort to alleviate the lack of low-income housing in the area. Grogan says he expects the loans to be fully distributed by next month.
Now administrators are looking at other sectors where University expertise might make a difference.
"We will continue to work with city officials and possibly other Universities in a number of initiatives that will follow on the housing initiative," Grogan says.
Grogan says the University is considering working with Boston's "troubled schooling systems" and public health programs. But he says that much more research will be necessary before Harvard can make more concrete plans.
"The difficulty is to find a place where we can actually make a large difference," Grogan says.
Grogan says over the last couple years both the University and the community have become increasingly aware of their economic interdepence.
"The University's permanence as a large-scale employer and service-provider is especially important because globalization is causing other businesses to move around," Grogan says.
To make the best possible use of the Harvard influence on the local economy, Grogan envisions an alliance between the many Boston-area research institutions and city administrators.
"Right now we talk when we're making transactions, but there should be another layer to these relations," Grogan says. "Many universities have studied their impact on the community. They should talk about the things they need to do to preserve the economy"
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