Geneseo & Augustana announce partnership

Lisa Depies
Geneseo City Administrator Lisa Kotter speaks at a press conference at Augustana College on Friday, Aug. 3. Augustana recently announced partnerships between the college and four area communities, including Geneseo.

In the late 1860s, when Augustana College was looking to relocate from Paxton, Ill., officials were presented with two options — move the college to Rock Island or to Geneseo.

Ultimately, the school was relocated to Rock Island, but, nearly 150 years later, Geneseo has its chance to partner with Augustana.

During a press conference at the school’s Founders Courtyard on Friday, Aug. 3 Augustana officials announced partnerships with the communities of Davenport, Morrison, Rock Island and Geneseo.

As part of the partnership, Augustana students and faculty members will work with communities to conduct research and create solutions for community projects and issues.

“This program creates a transformative partnership between Augustana and a city/county partner, matching existing courses and other learning experiences (independent research, internships, etc.) with community-identified and driven sustainability problems,” said school officials.

By working together, the Augustana students hope to “create an even better Quad-City area,” said Augustana president Steven Bahls.

Bahls said one of his goals was to “increase the number of Augustana students staying in the Quad Cities after graduation.” He believes that can happen through partnerships with area communities.

“It’s about getting the students engaged and having hands-on experience,” said Bahls.

Geneseo officials first started discussing the possibility of a partnership in January.

Aldermen formally approved the partnership in February. The city and college will work together on five projects in the upcoming two academic years.

The five projects are: a stormwater utility project, a marketing plan for the community and small businesses, a community wide citizen survey, a workforce development plan and survey, and a neighborhood revitalization plan.

The City of Geneseo has pledged $10,000 per academic year for the partnership, and the funds will cover out-of-pocket costs, such as transportation.

“Otherwise, the labor is free from the college and it is a real-life experience for those in school and real projects that the city would like to have completed. The council voted to partner with the college for numerous reason: the opportunity it gives our young people, we get new ideas from them, we complete projects that the staff and council deemed needed and we are collaborating with one of our educational partners in the QC area,” said Geneseo City Administrator Lisa Kotter.

Kotter spoke at the Augustana College press conference and said the City of Geneseo was “thrilled to be a part” of the partnership.

“We try very hard to work collaboratively, and we’re honored the City of Geneseo was selected,” said Kotter.

Augustana previously partnered with Scott County and the city of Clinton, Iowa. During those partnerships, more than 300 students in 15 courses participated in real-world activities, said Augustana faculty member Dr. Michael Reisner.

“The idea is to mobilize Augustana’s resources,” he said. “Students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world, and cities get the opportunity to work on projects they may not get to otherwise.”