As higher education institutions evolve in the 21st century, research university constituents are increasingly interested in cultivating their positions as anchor institutions in their local communities. Despite individual and collective intentions, this recalibration presents substantial challenges in large part because the institutions lack the infrastructure required to build viable, mutually beneficial partnerships that result in tangible community benefits. Historically, universities have exacerbated local inequities in adjacent communities, compounding trauma over generations and solidifying distrust of higher education. When partnerships are successfully established, inequitable power dynamics, incompatible organizational structures, and limited communication pathways often make long-term partnerships difficult to sustain and inequities hard to redress. This chapter addresses this challenge by considering the roles and responsibilities of colleges and universities as anchor institutions in their communities, with particular focus on the roles they play in community wealth building. Analysis of two public universities in Virginia reveals innovations and challenges as they attempt to reconstruct their institutional commitments toward serving the public good.
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