City, university officials explore ways to pool resources to meet current, future needs

Ted Abernathy Jr., executive director of the Southern Growth Policies Board, speaks June 7 at EKU during the International Town and Gown Conference.

RICHMOND, Ky. (June 14, 2012) — Economist Ted Abernathy Jr. told a group of educators and city leaders gathered at Eastern Kentucky University last week that just because something always worked in the past doesn’t mean it is the way of the future.

(More photos at the bottom of the story.)

Abernathy, executive director of the Southern Growth Policies Board, was the keynote speaker June 7 at the International Town and Gown Association’s seventh annual University-City Relations Conference.

The world is changing, along with the role of educational institutions, he said.

“What is the role of higher education? Is it to provide work skills or educational enlightenment?” He asked.

In today’s economy, those with college degrees are not necessarily the most employable, he said.

“I don’t know if you need a degree or not, but you need some skills,” Abernathy said.

The conference, which attracted more than 200 city and campus officials from throughout the United States and several other countries, explored ways local governments and universities can pool their resources and work together to meet current and future needs.

“Town and Gown Partnerships for the Present and Future,” was the subject of  numerous presentations and breakout sessions.
Keynote speakers for the week-long event included Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Sixth District U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler; and Mary Pat Regan, president of AT&T Kentucky.

Many of the breakout sessions featured city and/or university officials discussing collaborative initiatives that have advanced the town-gown relationship and benefited residents and campus communities alike, such as the EKU Center for the Arts. The week also included evening entertainment, including comedian Carl Hurley, a former EKU Professor; a June 5 concert at the Center by The Coasters, Drifters and Platters; and “Pops at the Ravine,” featuring the Madison Community Band.

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