Town-gown relationships: Exploring university-community engagement from the perspective of community members

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An increasing number of colleges and universities have developed strategies for community engagement. The engagement, however, has been one-sided in that colleges and universities send students, faculty, and staff members out into the community. The current investigation sought to further broaden the definition of community engagement by exploring the benefits that can be accrued by a university when community members are encouraged to explore the cultural, intellectual, athletic, and artistic benefits that are provided in college and university campuses. The results showed that community members who have attended a campus event in the past six months had a significantly more favorable impression of the university than those who had not attended an event. The implications for town-gown relations are discussed, the applicability of these findings to public relations practice generally are explored, and the limitations to the current investigation are offered. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Public Relations Review