The University of Chicago and the city of Chicago have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding that outlines ways the University will work with the city, elected officials and the local community to further develop economic opportunities and jobs on the South Side.
The University joined seven other institutions in signing separate MOUs with the city during a ceremony on Dec. 16 at the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago. UChicago’s new three-year agreement builds on a similar memorandum created in 2011.
“This agreement continues the commitment of collaboration between the University and the city of Chicago to invest in the future of our city, especially our neighboring South Side communities,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Through a broad range of initiatives, the University will continue to work with the city, local elected officials and community leaders to promote innovation and increase opportunities in education, employment and leadership development for local residents and organizations.”
In a statement announcing anticipated investments from UChicago and other institutions, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “One of Chicago’s greatest strengths is our world-class universities. They provide pathways to great careers for their students, and with the help of these agreements, will become even stronger engines of opportunity for our neighborhoods.”
Derek Douglas, vice president for civic engagement, signed the document on behalf of the University.
Through the new agreement, the University commits to collaborating with local aldermen and the city to take full advantage of the University’s investment of an estimated $750 million over the next three years, in the form of projects and programs that will benefit mid-South Side neighborhoods. The city commits to developing a plan for public infrastructure that considers and complements the University’s investments.
The document also highlights ongoing University initiatives and commitments that benefit the city. These include hiring practices that foster diversity and opportunities for local applicants, opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, investments in public safety through the University of Chicago Police Department, and capacity building for emerging leaders and nonprofit organizations through programs such as the Civic Leadership Academy and the Community Programs Accelerator. The University has made significant contributions to K-12 education in Chicago through the Urban Education Institute, including the four campuses of the UChicago Charter School, and initiatives such as UChicago Promise and the Neighborhood Schools Program.
The city will provide the University with streamlined review and approval of key projects, development of a framework plan for Nichols Park in Hyde Park, and planning assistance for key corridors in mid-South Side communities.
The MOU is effective immediately.
Other institutions that signed agreements with the city on Dec. 16 include DePaul University, Loyola University, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the School of the Art Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology and Rush University.
By Calmetta Coleman
Photos by Josh Anderson