Last month the University of Pittsburgh announced that Daren Ellerbee had been appointed as the Homewood Community Engagement Center director. The first of five CECs is projected to be established and operating in Homewood and servicing surrounding neighborhoods by spring 2018.
“I’m excited about working in Homewood as the first director of the CEC. As a Pittsburgh native, facilitating partnerships between the university and the community that have generational impact for residents is important to me,” said Ellerbe. “It is my hope to position the center as an effective bridge between the university and the community, with the goal of solving complex and persistent problems that diminish the quality of life of residents.”
The CEC, according to its website, is Pitt’s method of deepening its commitment to being a partner and resource to its surrounding urban neighborhoods, city and region. Established in neighborhoods like Homewood and the Hill District, the CECs will be geared to forge strong partnerships between Pitt’s educational and research assistance and community leaders who are working to help their neighborhoods thrive. The result is a place-based strategy that will enrich the university’s core educational mission, coordinate and enhance existing engagement efforts, and help to alleviate some of the most enduring challenges of Pittsburgh’s urban neighborhoods.
During a recent informational session held at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA, Dr. Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, secretary of the Board of Trustees, provided an overview of the CECs and introduced Ellerbee to an audience of approximately 75 people. Mentioning that the project is still in the organizational process, she is encouraging feedback from the community as plans move forward for the Homewood CEC. Humphrey explained that the CECs are a part of new chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s strategic plan to strengthen communities. Other points include advancing educational excellence, engaging in research impact, promoting diversity and inclusion, embracing the world and building foundational strength. As a result of the strategic plan, Humphrey said the goals of the CECs are to improve Pitt’s ability to partner with the community, develop methods to communicate Pitt’s impact to the community, provide services within the community based on what Pitt does to add value, provide more opportunities for students to practice at the top of their license and in doing so to serve the community, and create more synergetic opportunities for Pitt researchers and community.