TU is the first non-city based institution to join the nation’s biggest anchor network and works to sets an example for metropolitan-serving institutions across the country and beyond.

Towson University (TU) is, in fact, an anchor institution. It has been serving Greater Baltimore since its founding in 1866 and it is the largest university in the metropolitan area. Its recent acceptance into the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) as the first and only non-city institution in the partnership’s history could not have come at a better time.

The acceptance into BIP aligns perfectly with Towson University’s Placemaking and Anchor Strategy and the goals of the Baltimore + Towson University (BTU) Framework. These initiatives elevate TU’s already important (and necessary) role as a metropolitan-based institution by leveraging the assets and resources—students, faculty, staff, location, research, investment and work in the communities—of the university to improve equity, sustainability, and wellbeing for the communities we serve. And, being the first institution outside the City of Baltimore to be part of an organization that is positioning itself as a national model for anchor institution partnerships marks a new milestone in the epoch of TU’s community engagement.

This is the next phase for a deeper engagement between Towson University and Greater Baltimore. The work of BIP clearly aligns with TU’s metropolitan-serving mission and deep commitment to inclusion and equity. We’re excited to start setting clear goals through BIP to enhance the work we’ve been doing for so many years.

What’s BIP?

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is a collective impact initiative of higher education institutions, hospitals, public, nonprofit, and foundation partners focused on establishing economic inclusion as the business culture of norm in the Baltimore region. It is the largest organization in the country that supports anchor planning and networking, convening members to build strategies for improving equity, strengthening the local economy, and enhancing the communities through the investment of resources. BIP also serves as the model organization for anchor partnerships across the country.

“The Baltimore Integration Partnership is excited that Towson University is joining the initiative. TU is our first non-city institution committed to an inclusion lens to join the work,” said Kurt Sommer, Director of the Baltimore Integration Partnership. “We look forward to working with the TU team to grow their hiring and investment activities to support new economic opportunities for low-income residents and local and minority-owned business.”

BIP Looks Familiar

The work the partnership promotes is not new to TU. In fact, TU’s membership builds on existing commitments and past work the university has conducted with BIP in the past.

“I met with Kurt Sommer several years ago, and he immediately connected me to other anchor institutions and different workforce resources in Baltimore. Through these connections, we were able to develop valuable partnerships with organizations such as Humanim to support programs around administrative training by hiring individuals at TU.,” said Jen Stano, Employment, Classification, and Compensation Manager in Towson University’s Department for Human Resources.

In partnership with Humanim, Jen developed the Administrative Assistant hiring program at TU. Graduates of the Humanim program were hired in temporary administrative positions at TU with the goal of providing experience that would allow the employees to move into permanent roles. The program accepts applications from a variety of local organizations and the community. With Associated Black Charities, a BIP partner, TU hiring managers learned about implicit bias through discussing the history of Baltimore, understanding the individual’s own background and bias, and developing an action to hire using an equity lens.

Jen looks forward to the formalized partnership.

“We are excited for a continued partnership with BIP as we look to engage more with our community, specifically providing opportunity to those who may not have previously considered TU as an employer. We also look forward to ongoing education and discussion around hiring outcomes, diversity, and inclusion.”

The work of Jen Stano and BIP membership reflects TU’s mission of inclusion and equity. By educating, employing, and investing in under-served communities and underrepresented populations, TU can play an even bigger role in bridging the equity gap in Greater Baltimore.

Community Engagement Already Taking Place

Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership, and Bobbie Laur, Associate Vice President Outreach, Towson University

Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership, and Bobbie Laur, Associate Vice President Outreach, Towson University

In conjunction with Jen Stano’s work, TU is already rooted in community engagement initiatives on a national level. TU serves as the headquarters and is a member of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), an international network of over 90 colleges and universities that shares information and connects community-engagement initiatives and research from each member institution through the Metropolitan Universities journal and the Annual CUMU Conference.

The BTU Framework, one of President Schatzel’s eight presidential priorities, facilitates local partnerships with schools, nonprofits, and public and private contractors and businesses to help serve five impact areas that build and enhance local communities. While BTU facilitates partnerships in every county in Maryland, the majority are in Greater Baltimore.

TU’s New Role in BIP

It’s an obvious choice for TU to be accepted into BIP. Programs and partnerships already root the university as a metropolitan-serving institution.

Activities as a member of BIP focus on local hiring, local purchasing, and local investment. In the future, TU will look to develop strategies, policies, and processes addressing hiring, investing, and purchasing goals in the Baltimore metro area. This type of work helps TU to build strong and sustainable communities—our most valuable resource.

“To be successful in this next phase of our Anchor strategy, we will need participation and support from across our campus. In building a stronger Greater Baltimore, we build a stronger TU,” said Sam Sidh, Chief of Staff, Towson University.