What Makes UALR a Metropolitan University?
What makes a university a metropolitan university? It is more than just where the university is located. A metropolitan university has a diverse student body: students are on average older and diverse in ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic background. Because the makeup of a metropolitan university is different, the mission of such an institution is different as well. Metropolitan universities must educate their students, but they also have to teach them to be effective citizens and capable in their chosen professions.
Metropolitan universities also have to reach beyond the borders of the campus. They must serve the needs of the community in which they are located by developing partnerships with public and private enterprises. As described in the Declaration of Metropolitan Universities, a metropolitan university is an integral part of its region, shaped by its community even as it works with its community to shape their joint future.
Declaration of Metropolitan Universities
Several years ago, a group of educators from metropolitan universities and colleges across the country joined to draft a formal statement of what constitutes a metropolitan university. Chancellor Joel E. Anderson is among the signatories on that statement, which is reproduced below:
We, the leaders of metropolitan universities and colleges, embracing the historical values and principles which define all universities and colleges, and which make our institutions major intellectual resources for their metropolitan regions:
- reaffirm that the creation, interpretation, dissemination, and application of knowledge are the fundamental functions of our universities;
- assert and accept a broadened responsibility to bring these functions to bear on the needs of our metropolitan regions;
- commit our institutions to be responsive to the needs of our metropolitan areas by seeking new ways of using our human and physical resources to provide leadership in addressing metropolitan problems, through teaching, research, and professional service.
Our teaching must:
- educate individuals to be informed and effective citizens, as well as capable practitioners of professions and occupations;
- be adapted to the particular needs of metropolitan students, including minorities and other underserved groups, adults of all ages, and the place-bound;
- combine research-based knowledge with practical application and experience, using the best current technology and pedagogical techniques.
Our research must:
- seek and exploit opportunities for linking basic investigation with practical application, and for creating synergistic interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary scholarly partnerships for attacking complex metropolitan problems, while meeting the highest scholarly standards of the academic community.
Our professional service must include:
- development of creative partnerships with public and private enterprises that ensure that the intellectual resources of our institutions are fully engaged with such enterprises in mutually beneficial ways;
- close working relationships with the elementary and secondary schools of our metropolitan regions, aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of the entire metropolitan education system, from preschool through post-doctoral levels;
- the fullest possible contributions to the cultural life and general quality of life of our metropolitan regions.
(As quoted in Metropolitan Universities: An Emerging Model in American Education, compiled and edited by Daniel M. Johnson and David A. Bell, University of North Texas Press, Denton, Texas, 1995.)