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Roger A. Lohmann

Strong ties to the community have long been a part of the land grant tradition in American public universities. That history is filled with short-term efforts that rise, succeed for a while and fade. Nowhere is this more true than in West Virginia. West Virginia University has long been one of the few genuinely statewide public institutions in the state. Politically, West Virginia has a strong Southern populist streak and almost no history of sustained relations between leaders and citizens. This chapter reports on a unique configuration of circumstances that led to the establishment of the Nova Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences, and its roughly five-year trajectory of unique “town–gown” relations, which included an extensive program of public deliberation activities. The chapter details both the circumstances which led to establishment of the institute and those that undermined its effectiveness and left it in a state of diminished capacity.