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The University's recent work to develop a Knowledge District downtown places it in the center of a nationwide trend of schools becoming increasingly interested in exploring their relationships with surrounding cities. Representatives from five universities gathered yesterday to discuss how their institutions have taken active roles in shaping the surroundings at the annual Anton/Lippitt Conference, hosted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy.

Marion Orr, director of the Taubman Center, and President Ruth Simmons represented the University at the conference, which the Taubman Center has organized for the past 11 years. The University has become more involved in the urban district and in the development of the city's economy, they said.

Simmons said the University has remained committed to its local investments over the past 10 years, enabling further development in the state. The University's progress in the fields of biotechnology, engineering and medicine has paved the way for further expansion of these disciplines downtown.

After Orr's introduction and Simmons' welcome, the conference shifted its attention to other universities.

Marilyn Higgins, vice president of community engagement and economic development at Syracuse University, explained how Syracuse has initiated projects in the city to revitalize local neighborhoods. These projects have focused on a reciprocal relationship of learning between students, faculty and community members.

Andrew Frank, special adviser to the president on economic development at Johns Hopkins University, took a humorous look at some of the pitfalls of university-based urban planning. He recounted the perhaps ill-advised decision to name a newly restored community "the Middle East."

He also discussed the East Baltimore Development project, which has established new housing north of the university and built a biotechnology park.

Representatives from the University of Buffalo, the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania also discussed neighborhood development projects undertaken by their institutions.


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