The Roles of Foundations and Universities in Redevelopment Planning


  • Laurie A. Walker University of Montana
  • Jean F. East University of Denver



planning; public housing; resident engagement; qualitative


Laurie A. Walker, the 2017 recipient of the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement, is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Montana. Together with her co-author, Dr. Jean F. East, Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, they have raised, in this piece, an important and insightful critical lens on the implications of higher education institutions’ “engagement” with their local communities. It looks deeply into the implications of the “blind spot” identified by Baldwin (2017), which “comes largely from the assumption that higher education, while hypnotized by corporate power, is still an inherent public good, most clearly marked by its tax-exempt status for providing services that would otherwise come from the government.” They examine how campuses may be deeply involved in the local urban area and also advancing a self-interest that may not be a public interest – through gentrification, and through what Baldwin calls “noneducational investments in real estate, policing, and labor” that “can carry negative consequences for neighborhoods of color.” Walker and East are asking us to more closely examine how campuses can get so involved in the cities of which they are a part as to be a dominant force that does not advance the public good, but the good of the campus. This is a dilemma and a question that many of the CUMU member campuses have already faced or may face in the coming years, and goes to the heart of the public good of higher education in a neoliberal age.


—John Saltmarsh, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Author Biographies

Laurie A. Walker, University of Montana

Laurie A. Walker was: (a) a community organizer in a neighborhood of this study that was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation; (b) a Housing and Urban Development – Office of University Partnerships Early Doctoral Student and Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant recipient from 2008-2012; and (c) a program evaluator of the Resident Advisory Council process evaluated. Laurie is the 2017 recipient of the Ernest A. Lynton Award.

Jean F. East, University of Denver

Jean F. East is a community practice specialist and was an academic collaborator with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections-Denver initiative during the 10 years of the program. She was the co-founder of Project WISE (Women’s Initiative for Service and Empowerment), which was a community based organization partner in the Resident Advisory Council process. Jean was also Laurie’s academic advisor during graduate school.


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