Rural colleges going urban?

Should rural universities even think about going urban? In our customer-driven economy based on you, that question may be best answered by the students themselves, such as Cleo Szmygiel, a University of Connecticut freshman, “This would make it easier for them to attract students.”

That’s a quote from a NY Times article on how students who want a more urban vibe when going to a university ‘in the middle of nowhere’ are finally getting what they want. Just listen to these University presidents:

“You can’t market yourself as bucolic. Students graduating from high school these days seem particularly attracted to urban settings. I think students crave the kind of vitality you have in an urban space. The images that reveal an active social life are urban-based,” says J. Timothy Cloyd, president of Hendrix College, whose college is investing land and $8-$10 million toward that vision.

“The distinctive marks of many of these campuses are shops, restaurants, offices and housing that, together, create a destination. The idea is to produce street life and to promote social interaction.” Ralph J. Hexter, president of Hampshire College.

“When you picture a global university, you picture urban. You picture restaurants, art galleries, you picture day and night, taking in movies, live performances.” Amy Gutmann, president of University of Pennsylvania.

Other rural universities going urban: University of Connecticut in Storrs (see CoolTown profile on Storrs Center; the University of Notre Dame; Furman University in Greenville, SC; and Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.

Image: The Village at Hendrix College by TND Partners.

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