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October 15, 2009

University ranks high in neighborliness

Pitt is the nation’s top-ranked public “Best Neighbor” educational institution in the 2009 edition of “Saviors of Our Cities: A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships.”

The top 25 institutions listed in the rankings “were selected because of their positive impact on their urban communities, including both commercial and residential activities such as revitalization, cultural renewal, economics and community service and development,” according to this week’s announcement of the results by Evan S. Dobelle, the survey’s author. He is president of Westfield State College in Massachusetts and former president of the New England Board of Higher Education.

Maintaining that the current state of the U.S. economy makes the economic relationship between institutions of higher education and their local communities “more important than ever,” Dobelle released the report’s findings during the annual conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

When ranked with all institutions of higher education, public and private, Pitt was tied for second place in the survey with the University of Dayton. The University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California were tied for first place in the survey.

“Over the course of recent years, the role that our University has played in this region’s rebirth has been cited with envy by observers from other parts of the country,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg.

“To now be ranked as the country’s very ‘best neighbor’ among all of the nation’s public universities in the Saviors of Our Cities survey is a wonderful form of recognition for those efforts and their impact.”

This is the second Saviors of Our Cities ranking; in the first, issued in 2006, Pitt was ranked 6th among public institutions and 18th among all schools.

The Saviors of Our Cities rankings “are composed of academic institutions diverse in size, geography and course offerings,” according to the survey. “They have demonstrated and documented long-standing cooperative efforts with community leaders to rehabilitate the cities around them, to influence community revitalization and cultural renewal, and to encourage economic expansion of the local economy, urban development and community service.”

Among the assessment criteria in the survey were length of involvement with the community; real dollars invested; the presence felt through payroll, research and purchasing power; faculty and student involvement in community service; continued sustainability of neighborhood initiatives; quantifiable increase in positive recognition of the institution; qualitative esprit of the institution in its engagement, and recognition of the impact of these institutions within their communities.

Dobelle cited Pitt’s Community Outreach Partnership Center, the selection of the city as the site of the 2009 G-20 Summit and the PITT ARTS program, which connects students to the city’s cultural and art scene.

With respect to the economic criteria considered in the rankings, Dobelle cited the following statistics of Pitt’s annual impact on the local economy:

• $5.6 billion in earnings by nearly 74,800 Pitt alumni residing in Allegheny County;

• $1.74 billion in total University-related spending;

• $1.3 billion in personal income generated from nearly 33,800 Pitt-supported jobs;

• $642 million in sponsored research, supporting more than 23,100 jobs;

• $151.7 million in direct and induced expenditures associated with people visiting Pitt;

• $145.2 million to communities, including sales, wage and real estate taxes, and

• $140.7 million average annual investment on construction from FY 2006 through FY 2008, generating more than 1,300 jobs in construction and related industries.

The survey results are available at

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 4

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