UniTown Network Conference

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By Roger Kemp

UniTown Network Conference Promotes Town-Gown Best Practices in the European Union

The first-ever UniTown Network Conference was held October 2-4, 2013, at the University of Ferrara in the City of Ferrara, located in northeast Italy. It was designed for representatives of over a dozen universities and municipalities from throughout the European Union.

Both the Mayor of the City of Ferrara and the President of the University of Ferrara opened up this session. The goal was to discuss best practices in the dynamic and evolving field of town (municipalities) and gown (universities) relations.

Many university and public officials talked about joint town-gown best practices in their respective communities from throughout Europe. The goal is to initiate a UniTown Network website, to codify information in this field, and to come up with a listing of worldwide online town-gown resources.

Press conference:

I was asked to attend this conference and give a keynote speech titled "Town and Gown Best and Evolving Practices." My presentation was based on the research I did for my latest book, Town and Gown Relations: A Handbook of Best Practices (McFarland and Co., Inc., 2013), which focuses on the best town-gown practices in North America (the U.S. and Canada).

This is a first for the European Union. And the UniTown Network is the first multinational organization of its type in the world! Their efforts will certainly help bring forth best practices, and make this information available to other town-gown officials throughout the world in the near future.

About the Author

Roger Kemp, PhD, ICMA-CM, is a faculty member at the University of New Haven.

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