Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

John Saltmarsh

Second Advisor

Dwight E. Giles, Jr.

Third Advisor

Linda Silka


This historical case-study examines the evolution of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium during its "community engagement period" from 2004 to 2008, which coincided with the formation of the Worcester UniverCity Partnership, a broad attempt to bring the colleges in Worcester, the City, the business community, and the neighborhoods into a collaborative relationship with the goal of creating economic development opportunities for the residents of Worcester. This study addresses an area of significance for America's urban areas and higher education institutions as these communities and institutions begin to redefine their relationships in response to calls for a reinvigoration of our democracy. The findings of this study indicate that consortia are not static and have tremendous potential, as a collective of anchor institutions, to encourage the creation of pathways for colleges and the wider community to intersect, creating space to discuss concerns and agree on a mutual agenda for community-wide improvement. Thus, through the formation of strategic alliances, the likelihood for collective action, collective impact, and sustainability of these efforts increases significantly. Further, it shows that consortia, like colleges, are influenced by history, culture, politics, and geography. The findings of this study have implications for college and university leaders who wish to both create significant positive change in urban communities and examine best practices that drive and sustain community initiatives. The study also has implications for political leaders and public policy makers, as it explores how federal, state, and local government as well as businesses and the general public may support and benefit from these types of consortial collaborations focused on community engagement.


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