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Staff and Program Updates, April 2016

Program and Staff Updates

Jeff Matson, CURA CGIS (back in green shirt), and other members of Minnesotans for the American Community Survey (MACS) meet with congressman Keith Ellison (holding paper) to discuss the importance of fully funding the 2020 Census and continuing to support a mandatory American Community Survey.

April 21, 2016

In October of 2015 the Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) hosted a mixer event at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum that engaged about 60 University staff and faculty and Hennepin County staff around issues of mutual interest. This event was designed to encourage University faculty and County staff to apply for a Hennepin-University Collaborative Grant. 

After the mixer, attendees with an idea for a collaboration were invited to submit a letter of interest to qualify them for a $30,000 Hennepin-University Collaborative Grant (HUCG). Of those who submitted a letter of interest, six grant proposals were received. HUP’s Management Team, composed of leaders from both Hennepin and the University, selected the final awardees and chose to fund two proposals. One grant will fund a survey of homeless youth, and the other will develop processes to address Adult Corporate Foster Care services.

Hennepin County’s Center for Innovation and Excellence held an Innovation Day on November 17 at Hennepin County’s Government Center. This event highlighted the innovative work that various Hennepin County departments are doing. The HUP hosted a table with information to inform Hennepin County staff about how the HUP can serve them.

The Hennepin County Elections Division contacted HUP to explore a possible collaboration with the University on the topic of increasing voter participation. As a result, a Graduate Research Assistant will be hired to collect and analyze information about strategies used in other parts of the region and the country to increase voter registration. Claire Psarouthakis, a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, was chosen and will be working with Ginny Gelms in the Elections Division over the fall and spring semesters to complete a project outlining recommendations to increase voter registration in Hennepin County. 


The Resilient Communities Project’s (RCP) current academic-year partnership with Carver County kicked off in September with a celebration at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum attended by 60 faculty, students, and Carver County staff. The year-long collaboration is providing hands-on learning opportunities for hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who are working on more than 30 sustainability-related projects identified by Carver County and its partners. The City of Brooklyn Park has been selected for RCP’s 2016–2017 academic year partnership (see announcement on page 41), which will launch in fall 2016.

Carissa Schively Slotterback has stepped down as director of RCP to focus on her growing duties as director of research engagement in the Office of the Vice-President for Research at the University of Minnesota. Mike Greco, who has served as RCP’s program manager since he and Slotterback cofounded the program in 2012, has assumed the role of director. RCP welcomed two new program assistants this fall to help administer the program: Bridget Roby, a master of public health student in the School of Public Health, and Maria Wardoku, a master of urban and regional planning student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Roby and Wardoku bring energy, enthusiasm, and a wealth of communications and project management experience to RCP.

In September, Mike Greco led a session at the annual Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association Conference in Bemidji on “Crossing Community-University Currents to Advance Sustainability.” The session highlighted RCP’s recently concluded partnership with the City of Rosemount, and included presentations by Rosemount Community Development Director Kim Lindquist, Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz, and Planner Jason Lindahl. In October, Greco moderated a panel on “Climate Change: State and Local Government Responses” at the 31st Annual Minnesota Policy Conference in St. Paul. Panelists included Kristin Raab from the Minnesota Department of Health and LisaBeth Barajas from the Metropolitan Council. The session considered current and anticipated impacts of climate change in Minnesota, and what state and local governments are doing to adapt to effects on natural resources, built infrastructure, and human health.

RCP evaluation specialist Doug Moon presented his evaluation work with RCP at the University of Minnesota’s Community of Scholars Program poster symposium in November, which was sponsored by the Office for Equity and Diversity. Moon’s work on behalf of RCP has provided a firm foundation for documenting how participating in RCP projects helps students understand and apply the concepts and theories they are learning in the classroom to real-world issues and problems, while meaningfully advancing local efforts toward greater sustainability.

In November, Moon and Greco attended the annual meeting of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network in San Diego. The EPIC Network includes nearly 20 colleges and universities across the nation that have launched RCP-type programs, and provides member-institutions with a platform to support newly launched programs and share best practices and lessons learned about community-engaged sustainability education.


Will Craig retired from CURA in July 2014, but continues to conduct research on topics that interest him. One of those topics is the settlement of lands in the Midwest–with a special focus on the old farmstead where he and his wife spend their summers. Two articles about this have been published recently. One is about that farm itself in eastern Wisconsin, starting with a homestead in 1869 and covering the lives of the families who lived there over the next 100+ years. The other study takes a wider geographic perspective and looks at the settlement history of the entire community, requiring access to federal, state, and local government data sources; the methodology developed for Door County can be used anywhere in the western United States. 

“Our Brick Home on Lake View Road,” Journal of Opinions, Ideas, & Essays: Vol. 2, Article 4 (2015) is available at http://z.umn.edu/1410. “Mapping European Settlement in Wisconsin,” Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office (2015) is available at http://z.umn.edu/1411.