...the Brown Commemoration aimed to extend a hand to the community, but was not entirely successful in its efforts to do so.  
  While the great majority of Brown events were held on campus, the commemoration led many of our interlocutors to reflect on the ideals and realities of the relationship between university and community. As many of the observers below note, the Brown Commemoration did not entirely succeed in its efforts to extend a hand to the community. At the very outset of the commemoration year, the Brown committee held an open meeting to alert the community to upcoming events and gather ideas for further outreach. This important effort notwithstanding, the committee then entitled its public call for project applications “Through Multiple Lenses: Faculty, Students, and Staff,” excluding mention of community members. A member of the Brown organizing committee later acknowledged this “oversight,” recalling that the entire group looked through the brochure before it went to press. In Spring 2004, the organizing committee attempted to redress the exclusion by producing a new flyer directed more overtly to the community, and distributing it widely off campus. Teresa remarked in her notes that the earlier oversight nonetheless reflects tensions in the commemoration that run throughout the responses provided below. In these responses from community members, we note two visions of the university: as a resource to serve the local Champaign-Urbana community—to “spread the wealth,” as one event organizer said; and as a critical training ground for the next generation of professionals who will enter and transform the community. (Chapter 2)  
Read the Report
  Nancy Cantor  

Cantor also believed the Brown Commemoration could improve university-community relations. During her three-year tenure at Illinois, she noted, she had learned to appreciate “how delicate the relationships are between the university and its community of color surrounding it.” Thus, it was important for her, as chancellor, in conjunction with the campus, “to make a statement . . . that opens the campus” to surrounding communities of color “in a way that says we’re examining ourselves, we want to examine ourselves in relation to history and to you” and “we want you to come on campus” to be part of that extended exercise. Cantor realized that whatever the Brown Commemoration was to become for the local African American community, it had to go far beyond the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., celebration that had become “very ritualized around the Sunday event” at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. (Chapter 2)

  Cynthia Oliver  
  Similarly, Professor Cynthia Oliver, who organized the commemoration’s dance events with Dianne McIntyre and Amaniyea Payne, called for aggressive outreach on the part of the university, “specifically to the black Champaign-Urbana community,” noting particularly the “lack of connection.” Charging the university with responsibility for interacting with the community, Oliver asked, “How do we interact with people? How do people imagine us (the university) as a resource?” Teresa noted that Oliver’s approach to Brown spoke to her larger sense of the university’s responsibility to the community: “Cynthia wants to ‘spread the wealth,’ so she is having the dancers perform at community centers.” Oliver also invited children from the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club to the dress rehearsal so they could see the show without buying tickets. Oliver saw the university as a potential community resource that can make a difference only if it cultivates relationships across the university-community boundary. (Chapter 2)  
Read the Report