“The word ‘community’ means to be in union with and connected to,” said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees, at a June 4 community forum hosted by the Hill District Community Engagement Center (CEC).
“It’s very hard for us to be in union with or connected to if we don’t reach out and get to know those who we don’t know and connect in ways that make our lives more fulfilled.”
The event, which took place at the Hill District’s YMCA, provided an opportunity for the more than 150 residents in attendance to connect with Pitt’s newest neighborhood commitment and provide feedback to University leaders, faculty and staff.
About the Community Engagement CentersCECs help Pitt to be a better partner in the community and realize our place-based strategy. CECs create space for neighborhood partners, community-based organizations, and University students and faculty to collaborate and make big things happen together. Read more about how faculty and staff can get involved.
With planning and progress on the center underway, Hill District CEC Director Kirk Holbrook is excited about the past year’s accomplishments. “We are continuing to strengthen existing relationships while establishing new collaborations and fostering deeper, more meaningful partnerships on the ground,” he said.
The Hill District CEC is Pitt’s second long-term community partnership — the Homewood CEC opened in October 2018. These neighborhood commitments enable the University to put its teaching, research and capacity-building programs to service for communities. At the centers, faculty and staff teach students through experiential learning. And, as Holbrook explained, they can see the direct, positive impact of their work — outcomes that meet the needs of the community — in real-time.
“Aligning faculty and staff engagement with the community’s agenda helps Pitt do what it does best, while supporting the work the community is doing,” said Holbrook.
Listening, learning and connecting with the community
The forum included a panel discussion led by neighborhood residents and civic and business leaders, as well as exhibits staffed by a variety of units from Pitt. Attendees were invited to share what they’d like to see at the CEC, and more broadly, how they want Pitt to interact with their community.
Holbrook’s work over the past year has focused on engagement and program development. Pitt units, including the Swanson School of Engineering, School of Computing and Information, School of Education’s Center for Urban Education, Office of Economic Partnerships and Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, have developed and hosted a variety of events for Hill District K-12 students.
“These collaborations show that the CECs are more than a building — they’re part of Pitt’s commitment to building a stronger community and a stronger University,” said Holbrook.