#LocalGovMatters – UniverCity

This week on #LocalGovMatters Gwyn Guenther, president of Wheeler Reports, talks with Gavin Lutter, the Program Director for UniverCity Year, and Mary O’Connor, Mayor of Monona, about UniverCity, which is partnering schools and community leaders to work on issues and present solutions.

The UniverCity Year program works in three phases: 1) the city, town, village, or other local agency identifies an issue that would benefit from an alliance with UW-Madison, and UniverCity Year pairs it with a department and staff at the university; 2) the faculty incorporate the project into their curriculum for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students to work on; 3) UniverCity Year helps to implement the new project solutions.

Mary discusses how the city of Monona worked with various departments, faculty, and students at UW-Madison in 2016-17 and how the process works for the local government. She mentions how there is a strong amount of communication between members of the local government and the students and their advisors throughout the process. She discusses the topics that Monona brought to UniverCity, including parks and recreation and sustainability, and how the results of the partnership panned out.

Gavin explains the types of projects that are being brought to UniverCity and the program accomplishments. Students of most majors can have a role in the program: engineering, finance, communications, political science, health sciences, and others. Additionally, cities, counties, towns, villages, and agencies or departments within a local government are all eligible to apply.

The three discuss the logistics behind the program, like the application process, time commitment, and the cost.

The UniverCity program is hoping to expand to other schools and cities throughout Wisconsin, to give students hands-on experience and giving local governments more broad solutions to issues.

The UniverCity Year effort at UW-Madison is looking for a new local government to work with for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Request for Proposals has just been released. UniverCity Year encourages you to apply! Maybe your locality could be our next partner. The deadline is July 27, 2018.

If you have any questions about what it means to participate, or help crafting your proposal, you should reach out to the Program’s Director, Gavin Luter (gavin@cows.org). Gavin is the new head of UW-Madison’s UniverCity Alliance (based at COWS), which manages the UniverCity Year partnership – an intensive year-long partnership between UW-Madison and a local government where we work with you to advance your stated priorities.

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