Jan. 23, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 8

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    Harris, SSA using McCormick Tribune grant to educate future urban leaders

    By William Harms and Peter Schuler
    News Office

    The Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and the School of Social Service Administration are furthering their individual missions of developing excellence in urban and community leadership with the help of a $10 million grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

    The grant was awarded last spring to the University and was equally divided between the schools.

    The McCormick Tribune Foundation grant is funding in each of the schools a cadre of urban and community leaders, including McCormick Tribune Professors, McCormick Tribune Leadership Fellows in the Harris School and McCormick Tribune Fellows in SSA.

    Both schools have faculty searches underway to identify appropriate recipients of the chaired professorships, and those professors will then direct the fellows program in each school. The schools already have identified the first group of student fellows and have begun their programs under interim directors.

    Faculty members in SSA and the Harris School have developed special class series to nurture their fellows’ development as future city leaders, and the fellows will be given ongoing opportunities to build personal networks among current city leaders, many of whom are alumni of the University.

    The class series, developed for the 27 fellows who were chosen in the Harris School, includes presentations on 20th-century Chicago leaders who carried out a broad range of endeavors. It also covers information on the institutions and initiatives that have made significant contributions to civic life.

    In early December 2002, the fellows from both schools met with a member of the SSA Visiting Committee, Terry Peterson, CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority. At the Robert Taylor Homes, the fellows had a first-hand briefing on the 10-year effort to construct and repair the 25,000 household units in the Chicago public housing projects.

    “This wonderful award from the McCormick Tribune Foundation allows us to expand our faculty and to attract outstanding students interested in improving urban life,” said Robert Michael, former Dean of the Harris School who is interim director of the fellows program there. “The programs we are developing with this new funding should both help prepare students for leadership roles in their communities and offer them opportunities that will promote their leadership.”

    Harris School student fellows were chosen based on outstanding academic performance and evidence of leadership as well as demonstrated interest in social policy issues relevant to urban communities like Chicago.

    At SSA, fellows were chosen through criteria that identified interest or experience–either professional or volunteer experience–in community-based work, academic preparation through related coursework, and evidence of leadership potential. Based on those standards, SSA awarded 17 fellowships to students in its master’s program.

    Both full- and part-time student fellows in SSA are pursuing their interests in field placements at community-based organizations that serve youth, the elderly and disadvantaged people. Their field experiences and conversations with each other as a community of fellows also form an important component of the program.

    “The McCormick Tribune grant allows us to do several important things,” said Dean Edward Lawlor, Professor in SSA. “First and foremost, it allows us to develop a state-of-the-art program in urban and community leadership, integrating the latest research with signification developments in practice. As a result, our graduates will be leading the charge for community development and urban change.”

    The SSA students also are taking part in a yearlong seminar on urban community development leadership. The topic of this year’s seminar is “The Anatomy of the Mixed-Income Development.”

    Mixed-income developments are Chicago’s experimental answer to housing, social services, economic development and community involvement. “The seminar is tackling one of the most significant urban problems and community issues in Chicago. We are meeting with leaders from the worlds of politics, community, housing development and urban design,” Lawlor said.

    “The students are treating these fellowships as a way to integrate their classroom experience and their field education with an understanding of a set of important issues that confront the city,” he added.

    The McCormick Tribune Foundation is one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations, with combined assets of $2 billion and annual giving in excess of $100 million. The foundation supports grant making in four areas: promoting local philanthropy through its communities program, working to improve early childhood education in the Chicago area, supporting journalism and a free press in the Americas, and encouraging active citizenship and volunteerism.

    The $10 million McCormick Tribune Foundation grant also represents a major contribution to the Chicago Initiative, the University’s five-year, $2 billion capital campaign, which was publicly launched in April 2002.