University progam provides students with unique city opportunities

The Sustainable City Year Program@@ recently finished its yearlong involvement with the city of Springfield on various projects within the city. The program works with University professors and city employees to determine projects that can be matched up with classes taught under the SCY umbrella.

The program, in its third year, is a way to make Springfield and other cities more sustainable. Associate Director of the program Marc Schlossberg@@[email protected]@ sees the program as a model for use at other universities. The University recently hosted more than 20 schools for a three-day conference where attendees learned how to run similar endeavors on their campuses. Born out of a meeting between Schlossberg and four other professors, the program provides students with real world opportunities.

“The real interesting thing about this model is that there’s nothing else like this in the country,” Schlossberg said. “The uniqueness is the involvement and the breadth. There’s 80,000 hours of effort put into this.”

Subjects ranged from designs for a new library from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts to public relations projects from the School of Journalism and Communication – more than 30 classes in total.

Springfield city officials were happy with the results as well. They had their proposal chosen by the University after losing out to Salem last year. Assistant City Manager Jeff Towery and SCY Project Manager Courtney Griesel@@names [email protected]@ both said they went into the process with an open mind and an understanding that they would be receiving projects and proposals that would both exceed and fail to meet expectations. The projects they did receive, Griesel said, exceeded the level of work they expected.

“When we got in there, we started to get really good stuff,” Griesel said. “When the final products got wrapped up, they were far and above anything we could have expected as a staff.”

The projects submitted are used to varying degrees within the city. Towery cited a storm water project as one that will be implemented in a manner close to the original proposal as an example of the quality of work submitted by students. He also explained that if the city takes part in the program in the future, the bar will be higher than it was for this year’s students.

“Knowing the breadth and the quality (of work) that we could get, I think we’d have higher expectations going in,” Towery said. “I think it’s been such a positive for our city staff people who have been involved. We had to coach people out to be interested and participate in this project, and I think next time around … it’d be easier to get staff to buy in.”


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