In 2002, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) defined what it means to be a regional comprehensive university (RCU) in its landmark report Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place: A Guide for Leading Public Engagement at State Colleges and Universities, which articulated an institutional purpose that is at once place-based and oriented toward serving multiple communities whose lives are enhanced by postsecondary education. It is now 2022 and the challenges facing RCUs have not drastically changed in the last two decades—resource disparities, enrollment fluctuations, balancing competing priorities while engaging place, and public skepticism over the value of higher education remain important issues. Nevertheless, some challenges have intensified and the broader economic, social, demographic, and political forces shaping institutions and their communities have evolved. As a result, stewardship of place in 2022 must look different than it did in 2002. Recommitting to Stewardship of Place: Creating and Sustaining Thriving Communities for the Decades Ahead provides an updated framing for stewardship of place that acknowledges the new postsecondary landscape while demonstrating why recommitting to being a steward of place is more important now than ever.
See also the practical companion publication, A Call to Action: Translating the Spirit of Stewardship of Place Into Practice, pubished in April 2023.