EDITOR’S NOTE: This report reviews both the quantitative and qualitative ways in which The University of Scranton makes a positive economic and community impact on the city of Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most numbers, unless otherwise noted, are based on the 2011-2012 fiscal year ending May 31, 2012.
Examining the University’s Economic & Community Impact on the City of Scranton
Dating back to August 1888, when Bishop William G. O’Hara, the first Bishop of Scranton, blessed a single block of granite as a cornerstone for his new college on Wyoming Avenue, The University of Scranton and the city for which the institution bears its name have been connected. Just as it was fact 125 years ago, it remains that way today – a certainty Jesuit founder St. Ignatius would revel in.
As the maxim goes, “Bernard loved the valleys, and Benedict loved the hills, Francis the towns, Ignatius the great cities.”
For St. Ignatius, cities were the site where transformational education best takes place, and it is here in Scranton that the University’s students learn, engage and grow. The following report highlights the many positive ways the University engages and impacts the community as an educational and cultural asset, economic engine, job creator, good neighbor and, above all, as a Catholic and Jesuit institution committed to service and helping to address community needs.
“Ultimately, the health and well-being of the city of Scranton and The University of Scranton are forever intertwined, and we look forward to many more years of partnership and collaboration,” says University President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J.
An Employer & Economic Engine
It’s clear that the University’s presence in Northeastern Pennsylvania makes a positive economic impact on the region. In a dollar amount, the figure stands at $404,077,660 for the 2011-2012 academic year. Since 1980, the institution’s impact on the city and the region moves north of $5 billion. (The estimate is based on established economic impact studies and formulas, including those used by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.)
While nearly half a billion dollars might be difficult to comprehend fully, here is a more digestible fact: An estimated 1,749 jobs can be directly or indirectly attributed to the University’s presence in the region. For each full-time employee at the University, an estimated .68 additional jobs are created in the local economy.
As of May 2012, the University employed 924 full-time faculty and staff, and an additional 231 part-time employees. Since 1980, 516 jobs have been created, averaging nearly 16 new jobs each year. Moreover, 1,777 alumni work in the city. In total, there are 2,840 University employees and alumni working in Scranton, making up eight percent of the city’s workforce.
Another demographic that can’t be overlooked is the nearly 6,000 Scranton students who eat, work, study and live in the city. In a recent survey of student spending among Lackawanna County colleges – designed to provide business owners with information on how to tap into the economic potential of this group – University of Scranton students reported spending an average of $1.4 million off campus each month.
Furthermore, the University’s Small Business Development Center works to nurture the economy of Northeastern Pennsylvania by providing entrepreneurs with the education, information and tools necessary to build successful businesses. Through no-cost small business consulting services, the center provided 631 consulting hours to 115 clients in the city in 2011-2012. As a result, six businesses were started, 18 jobs created and 11 saved.
Additionally, the University’s Office of Community Relations is currently in year two of its Downtown Engagement Initiative, working to increase the University community’s interaction with the city’s downtown. Since it began in August 2011, the initiative has drawn more than 3,500 individuals downtown through more than 35 special events and promotions, including the well-received fall student scavenger hunt.
“As a business owner, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of the University’s efforts to connect students, faculty, staff and parents with the downtown area,” says Maureen Duffy, owner of Duffy Accessories, located downtown on Linden Street.
A Good Neighbor
The University is proud to call the city of Scranton home, and home is a very accurate description. Nearly 1 in 10 “Scrantonians” are University students, alumni or employees. Like any good neighbor, these individuals – as well as the institution – share their time, talents and treasure with the surrounding communities.
While the institution meets or exceeds all of the requirements for tax exemption in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the University is the most consistent nonprofit in the city to provide an unrestricted, voluntary contribution. Last year, the University contributed $175,000 to the city of Scranton and $58,500 to Lackawanna County. This is in addition to the $3.16 million invested since 2007 by the institution to help subsidize the Mulberry Street Improvement Project, improving the Mulberry Street corridor and connecting the University campus to the nearby neighborhood.
The University truly views itself as a partner with the community, and that is reflected in numerous undertakings and ventures. Since 2004, the campus has hosted 4,567 events by community organizations, waiving more than $492,000 in room usage fees. Every year the University hosts more than 100 concerts, performances and lectures that are free to the community, and the Weinberg Memorial Library is open to the public.
Furthermore, the Office of Community Relations, which serves as a link to the Greater Scranton area, began in 2011 to convene “Neighbor Night” events every academic semester. These evenings allow Scranton residents, particularly in the Hill Section and downtown, to hear the school’s latest developments, ask questions, and engage in discussion with University leaders.
“Neighbor Nights have helped demystify the University, giving Scranton residents an opportunity to come on campus, ask questions, and hear the latest news,” says Karin Foster, president of the West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch.
Serving the City & One Another
Certainly, “love is shown more in deeds than in words,” as St. Ignatius explains. That notion has been widely accepted by University students, faculty and staff, committing themselves to hundreds of community service and volunteer programs, ranging from food, clothing, holiday gift and blood drives to mentoring programs and clean-up days. The University’s Center for Service and Social Justice works regularly with more than 120 Scranton-area nonprofit organizations to engage students in addressing community needs.
In the 2011-2012 academic year alone, approximately 2,750 Scranton students provided more than 175,000 hours of volunteer service, much of it in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The hours, however, do not tell the full story. Rather, it is the real-world experience that students gain and the human impact that is made on individuals in the Scranton community. Both benefit from engagement with one another.
“The University gives you the mindset that it’s important to do service,” says Julie Ann Nastasi, O.T.D. ’00, faculty specialist in the Department of Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy, who volunteers at the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind and established the University’s Prayer Shawl Ministry. “It becomes so engrained that you don’t even think about it anymore.”
One of the more prominent areas of need facing Lackawanna County residents has been access to health care. Since opening in 2007, the Edward R. Leahy Jr. Clinic for the Uninsured has answered this demand, providing free health care services to uninsured Lackawanna County residents who may otherwise forgo health care, or seek care inappropriately in hospital emergency rooms. In 2011-2012, the center treated 1,400 patients, dispensed 765 prescriptions, and administered 105 immunizations. In addition, the clinic is a vital educational setting for University students. In the last academic year, 99 students contributed 1,375 hours at the facility.
“The service component is a very strong component to a Jesuit education,” explains Sean Brennan, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and regular volunteer at St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton. “That’s what attracted me here to the University. I am drawn – I’m sure like others – to the Jesuit message of developing the mind, the faith, and the strong service component.”