Making the Work of Anchor Institutions Stick: Building Coalitions and Collective Expertise

Nancy Cantor, Peter Englot, Marilyn Higgins


As more colleges and universities commit to a public mission, it is
critical that our work as anchor institutions have a sustainable and
positive impact, and that we collaborate fully with the diverse voices
and expertise beyond our campuses—the most valuable assets of our
multicultural cities. Taking Syracuse, New York, as a microcosm, the
authors examine how Syracuse University physically and metaphorically
has become an embedded and trusted anchor institution by
building “civil infrastructure” to enable lasting “social infrastructure.”
We joined with numerous partners in one of the city’s poorest but
most promising neighborhoods to design “green homes,” repurpose
old warehouses, and greatly expand educational opportunities for all
children. As we did, art, technology, and literacy began to rewrite the
story of the neighborhood. Scholars, students, and residents forged
“communities of experts” to fulfill the central promise of an anchor
institution: to make a sustainable difference in our community.

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