Building a Relationship Between a University and its Surrounding Community: the Community Remembrance Project Revisited

Uehling, Katelyn
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University of Delaware
In their mission statements, many colleges and universities fail to include establishing a healthy relationship with their surrounding municipalities and neighborhoods. Yet maintaining such a relationship can help an institution prevent economic and legal fallouts. This project aims to explain the importance of building such university/community relationships through the analysis of the University of Delaware and its projects working with the New London Road Community, a once segregated African American community in Newark. The University has a history of an increasingly poor rapport with their African American neighbors, a situation which worsened as the university began to expand rapidly in the 1980‟s. When faculty at the University decided to embark upon a project to demonstrate the importance of art as social activism and the need to build relationships with surrounding communities, they chose to reach out to the African American community of New London Road. Their efforts culminated in the Community Remembrance Project, a joint effort by the Department of Fine Arts and Visual Communications and the Center for Material Culture Studies. The project began in 2004 and the aim was to recognize and honor the cultural roots of the New London Road African American Community. By working together with the citizens of the New London Road Community, the Community Remembrance Project produced a mosaic monument, a quilt, and two publications about the community‟s history. Along with the more tactile accomplishments the project also created a line of communication between the community and the University. When the mosaic monument fell to disrepair unexpectedly a few short years after being constructed, it became the mission of this project to find a new way to simultaneously commemorate the community and continue to strengthen the relationship between the University of Delaware and the community.