Right in Our Own Backyard

January, 2006

12-234Plymouth State University has become the partner of choice for more than 50 organizations across the state of New Hampshire. We see service to the state as mission critical, and are proud of the commitment with which we live up to our motto, Ut Prosim (that I may serve).

Nowhere is our commitment to community service more apparent than in our own backyard. Between strategic partnerships, student volunteerism and service, as well as the University’s cultural and economic impact on the Plymouth community, PSU is a dedicated community partner.

Our nationally award-winning Small Business Institute® has moved its office off campus to Main Street, Plymouth in order to provide greater accessibility and services to new and existing small businesses. This move is the result of a partnership with Meredith Village Savings Bank (MVSB), which opened its new Main Street branch office in February 2005; the SBI offices are located on the second floor. PSU’s new Rural Matters Center, which has been established to promote rural New Hampshire and be a voice for rural opportunities, concerns and aspirations, is also housed at MVSB.

Another local partnership is between PSU and the Whole Village Family Resource Center. Plymouth State faculty in the counselor education program staff a clinic at Whole Village offering free counseling services to the community. PSU graduate counseling majors gain valuable clinical experience and training, and Whole Village further enhances the health and human services it is able to provide to central New Hampshire families.

In just one year the Center for the Environment has established itself as a leader in promoting and addressing environmental issues affecting New Hampshire and Northern New England. An exciting new partnership for the Center is the riverfront project with the town of Plymouth. With assistance from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, the Center for the Environment, the town and other community service organizations will be researching and recommending a plan for improvements on both the Pemi and Baker riverfronts.

One of our most entertaining partnerships is the Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC). Now in its 12th year, ETC is a collaboration between PSU, Plymouth Elementary School and Friends of the Arts that gives children and community members an opportunity to experience the magic of the arts through an intergenerational theatrical stage production. Leading up to the show have been a children’s arts festival and an integrated arts workshop for teachers.

Other partnerships take shape through our students, who annually provide volunteer and service hours to the Plymouth area through internships, practica, student teaching and the Community Service Learning Center. One such example of students receiving real-life experience by providing a community service is the annual Tax Institute, at which junior and senior accounting majors prepare tax returns and answer tax questions for Plymouth area residents. These free services are provided for the eight weeks leading up to the April 15 tax deadline.

Other examples of student service are represented in the thousands of volunteer hours students contribute to Plymouth area initiatives such as Brian’s House; the Circle Program; Habitat for Humanity; Main Street, Plymouth; Pemi-Baker Literacy Task Force; Pemi Bridge House; Pemi Youth Center; Plymouth Area Community Closet; Plymouth Chamber of Commerce; and Plymouth Elementary School’s America Reads A+ Program. During the 2004–2005 academic year, PSU students contributed a total of 7,946 volunteer hours.

Plymouth State is also the cultural hub of central New Hampshire. The Silver Center for the Arts has grown tremendously over the years, and in 2004–2005, there were 203 events and 36,103 tickets sold (of which, 77 percent were to off-campus patrons). PSU is also becoming a center for visual arts with the Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Program. Twelve exhibitions, all free and open to the public, are presented each year. Visitors number 6,000 annually at the Drerup Gallery alone, located in the D&M Building on Main Street.

As a result of PSU’s educational mission, and the many partnerships, outreach and cultural opportunities, the University also has a significant economic impact on the town. PSU students, faculty, staff and visitors spend $30 million annually in the town of Plymouth. Such expenditures include, but are not limited to, auto services, clothing, dining, dry cleaners, entertainment, groceries, hardware and housing.

Plymouth State and the town of Plymouth rely on the distinct advantages each offers the other. The town, with its quaint New England charm, surrounded by the lakes and mountains, offers a vibrant quality of life. The University enhances that with cultural opportunities, athletic events, Lamson Library and the students themselves. So while Plymouth State has expanded its mission to provide applied research and regional outreach since becoming a University, many of those initiatives originate right here in Plymouth—our own backyard. As a result, both the town of Plymouth and the University can take pride in the distinct advantages we offer one another.

Donald P. Wharton, President

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