November 15, 2022

Recommitting to Stewardship of Place  


Stewardship in a new postsecondary context.

In 2002, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) defined what it means to be a regional comprehensive university (RCU) in its landmark report Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place: A Guide for Leading Public Engagement at State Colleges and Universities, which articulated an institutional purpose that is at once place-based and oriented toward serving multiple communities whose lives are enhanced by postsecondary education.

Twenty years later, the challenges facing RCUs have not drastically changed—resource disparities, enrollment fluctuations, balancing competing priorities while engaging place, and public skepticism over the value of higher education remain important issues. Nevertheless, some challenges have intensified and the broader economic, social, demographic, and political forces shaping institutions and their communities have evolved.

As a result, stewardship of place today must look different than it did in 2002. Recommitting to Stewardship of Place: Creating and Sustaining Thriving Communities for the Decades Ahead provides an updated framing for stewardship of place that acknowledges the new postsecondary landscape while demonstrating why recommitting to being a steward of place is more important now than ever.

“It is time that we deepen that anchor of being the educational, economic, and social hubs of the communities we serve.”

Mildred García

President, AASCU
Co-chair, Stewards of Place task Force

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