IonE News: University-Rosemount partnership 'a gift'

City banner near downtown Rosemount

By Monique Dubos, originally published in Institute on the Environment News, June 9, 2015; adapted from an article by Emily Zimmer for the Rosemount Town Pages

During his speech at the Resilient Communities Project end-of-year celebration May 1, Rosemount, Minn., mayor Bill Droste called the partnership a “great gift.” 

The University of Minnesota Resilient Communities Project celebrated the conclusion of its one-year partnership with Rosemount during a luncheon at the McNamara Alumni Center. 

An initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and the Institute on the Environment, RCP organizes yearlong partnerships between the U of M and Minnesota communities to pursue sustainability-related projects. The partnership merged the expertise of hundreds of graduate students with projects identified by Rosemount city staff and community partners. 

In all, more than 400 University of Minnesota students worked on 31 projects. RCP director and IonE resident fellow Carissa Schively Slotterback called the yearlong partnership a great success, adding that by working together the U and Rosemount advanced sustainability and resilience in the community in ways they couldn’t have individually. 

Rosemount was named the U of M’s Resilient Communities partner for the 2014–15 school year in a competitive process. The city came up with 40 projects it wanted help tackling over the course of the year. The projects were assigned to various graduate courses. 

Projects of note included investigating options for private housing for Dakota County Technical College students, exploring daytime staffing solutions for the Rosemount Fire Department, researching best practices for safe youth driving behavior, looking at alternative energy sources, considering stormwater management opportunities, probing transportation advancements and exploring the possibilities of an eco-green business park. 

Rosemount City Council member Jeff Weisensel said he was particularly impressed with the work done on the DCTC student housing project. The housing is something he would like to see developed in the community, and he expressed hope the project would help find a developer. 

College of Design professor Lyn Bruin, who taught the class that investigated the housing project, said her students benefited from the opportunity to work with working professionals. In particular, Bruin said her students worked with senior planner Eric Zweber and staff from the Dakota County Community Development Agency. Bruin said her students learned firsthand about funding resources available for housing. “My students had exactly the experience I wanted them to have,” she said. 

Resilient Communities Project manager Mike Greco said getting students practical learning experiences is part of what makes the program so successful. He said the experience adds a lot of value to their educational experience. 

Community development director Kim Lindquist said the experience working with students on the various projects was great. While it had practical benefits for the city, Lindquist said working with young professionals also invigorated her. “This would be a great experience for any community,” she said. 

In addition to observing the conclusion of its partnership with Rosemount, RCP also celebrated its future partnership with Carver County during the 2015–16 school year. 

View Rosemount’s project here