Levin College Forum

Anchor Initiatives Across the U.S.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Roberta Steinbacher Atrium
Levin College of Urban Affairs
Cleveland State University
1717 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
Event Video

About this Event

Gown, Town, and Neighborhood Change: Considering the Role and Neighborhood-Level Impacts of University Anchors

Across the United States, universities are doing more than attracting students, generating graduates, and developing research. Academic institutions are (re)defining their roles as anchor institutions and influencing the landscape of their neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Since the 1990s, several universities have pursued neighborhood revitalization as part of their anchor work, yet there is an inadequate understanding of how targeted neighborhoods have changed.

Dr. Meagan Ehlenz has researched these questions, considering the roles of university anchors in neighborhoods and examining the impacts of urban university anchors with place-based revitalization initiatives. In her talk, she will discuss both the theory and practice of anchor revitalization strategies by urban universities. She will explore the assumptions in contemporary anchor frameworks and examine how U.S. universities define their anchor roles. In addition, she will combine institutional survey data (IPEDS) with Census metrics to explain market and socioeconomic change for the university neighborhoods relative to their regions.

In her Forum presentation, she will discuss her results at a national level, as well as present detailed findings using a multi-dimensional typology of anchor strategies to analyze change by city type and university strategy. Collectively, her work suggests universities are leveraging revitalization efforts to respond to place-based deficits; in doing so, they are also aligning their neighborhoods with concurrent national trends toward growing enrollment and urban revitalization. These findings highlight the potential for university market-boosting effects, but also the unique opportunity to moderate housing market pressures alongside anchor institution investments.

Dr. Ehlenz is an assistant professor at Arizona State University's School of Geography and Urban Planning. Her major fields of study include urban revitalization and community development, with specializations in the role of anchor institutions in urban places and mechanisms for building community wealth.

Prior to joining ASU's faculty, Ehlenz was a research associate at the Penn Institute for Urban Research. In this capacity, she developed a set of case studies for Penn IUR's Anchor Institution Roundtable (PRAI), "The Power of Eds & Meds: Urban Universities Investing in Neighborhood Revitalization and Innovation." She was also a Lincoln Institute of Land Policy C. Lowell Harriss dissertation fellow. Previously, Ehlenz worked as a planning consultant in Southeastern Wisconsin and as a senior planner for the City of Milwaukee's Department of City Development. 

Ehlenz is a a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).