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Ohio University to co-host Ohio Town and Gown Summit

Ohio University and the City of Athens will co-host the fifth annual Ohio Town and Gown Association Summit July 14-15. 

The Summit, happening virtually, will bring together municipal, community, and higher education leaders from across the state to discuss and explore best practices to strengthen town-gown partnerships, showcase innovative collaborative programs and projects, and share strategies for community and economic development.

“It is an incredible honor for Ohio University to be a co-host of the fifth annual Ohio Town and Gown Association Summit along with the City of Athens,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “The relationships that the University has with community partners and the City of Athens are immeasurable and help provide a unique learning experience for all OHIO students. This conference is a great opportunity to highlight our strengths as well as the importance of town and gown connections.”

The Ohio Town and Gown Association was created in 2015, after Ohio municipal and higher education leaders committed to gather locally after connecting at an International Town and Gown Conference in Washington, D.C. The first Ohio-based Town and Gown Summit was hosted by Ohio University at the Pickerington Center and subsequent meetings have been held in Kent, Bowling Green, and Oxford.

Athens City Council President Chris Knisley is leading the planning committee with partners at the Athens Visitor’s Bureau, the City of Athens, the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Ohio University Events Services, and the Ohio University Center for Campus and Community Engagement.

“This conference couldn't come at a better time, as communities emerge from the challenges of the past year,” said Knisley. “We have much to learn from our colleagues across the state about how we have coped with economic, health and cultural challenges.”

Though the conference programming will be virtual, an “Athens Getaway Package” with discounted rates at the Ohio University Inn will be offered to give participants the opportunity to visit and experience Athens while participating in the Summit online. Wireless high-speed internet is complimentary and although the conference is not officially in-person, a small reception will be hosted for those comfortable to gather and network.  

Presentation proposals are being accepted until May 15. The call for proposals can be accessed at Find more information and register for the Summit online. Key themes of the Summit include: best practices for campus and community partnerships, demographic shifts and racial equity in campus communities, COVID-19 response and recovery, and campus and community strategies for climate change and sustainable infrastructure planning. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, and inquiries can be directed to the Center for Campus and Community Engagement at

“The Ohio Town and Gown Summit provides an incredible opportunity to reflect upon and recognize the interdependence existing between campuses and communities,” said Mary Nally, director of the Center for Campus and Community Engagement. “It’s a space to celebrate and share lessons learned from community-engaged partnerships in a way that reinforces the value of our communities, local governments, and the relevance of higher education institutions."

May 10, 2021
Staff reports