Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No brainer -- of course -- and count on it with me

Mark A. Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University, rant about effective partnerships.
Perspectives: Partnering for Pittsburgh: "One key to this continuing success story is our shared institutional commitment to forging effective partnerships. Neither of our universities, as strong as they are, could have attracted support for these national centers alone. But as each of these examples so clearly demonstrates, when we join forces, we can compete with anyone.

This kind of cooperation is essentially unique in the world of higher education. Unfortunately, it also is all too rare in southwestern Pennsylvania. However, if this region is going to advance, we must increasingly view our neighbors as potential collaborators and not as competitors. If we can overcome a long tradition of fragmentation and begin to work more effectively with each other, there is no reason that we cannot move this great region forward together.

All the king's men and all the king's horses can't put Pittsburgh back together again. This revival is going to take open teamwork and effective partnerships. We've got to play well with each other. We don't now -- because -- the mayor is in the way. Nor can we play well among all of our friends and neighbors when all of the leadership is of the same party.

One day, soon I hope, the leaders at Pitt and CMU are going to wake up to the fact that they have a serious role in the stewardship of our democracy. The governmental outreach at these institutions have been old-school. So, to take the conversation out of the elementary grades and move it to middle-school or high-school discussions, we need academic leaders to advance themselves and the overall discussions.

We've got some of the greatest minds around the world. But they are specialized and clueless, by in large, in terms of civics 101 in Pittsburgh in 2004. Pitt's School of Public Health is a cancer to local democracy.

The faculty senate at Pitt would not approve of the plan to put a merry-go-round between the two libraries, removing parking, and spending millions. The folly that happens here does so behind some serious smoke agents, such as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. There is little or no partnership for execllence in these neighborhood ways. Many strive to cloak the truth and short-change accountability.

On a department by department basis, those at the universities need to wake up, for the sake of the city.

But, on the upside, that potential is there and waiting and willing. Once we make Grant Street in tune with the rest of the city institutions, we'll be able to soar. That's, to use George W. Bush's words, "hard work." We'll have to come in on Saturdays. Hard, difficult, talking with professors, it's confusing, hearing big words, headaches and a challenge.

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