Plymouth State University Creates Center for Rural Partnerships

February 15th, 2006 by Adam

Continuing its commitment to teaching, research and service, Plymouth State University (PSU) has created the Center for Rural Partnerships, an organization aimed at connecting the needs and goals of rural communities with insightful research and productive partnerships.

Plymouth State University is a regional comprehensive university, focused on serving the state-wide community while connecting to a larger, global vision of education, service and applied research. Emerging from that mission, the Center for Rural Partnerships (CRP) will meet the need for an objective research and resource center in rural New Hampshire. The center will work with a variety of constituents and community groups on a number of issues, including sustainable community economic development and promoting New Hampshire’s rural quality of life.

“At Plymouth State University, we strive to make connections to our local, statewide, regional and global community that make a difference,” said PSU President Dr. Donald P. Wharton. “We have identified the need for an organization that focuses on rural New Hampshire. Whether providing research on the economic and social impact of uneven development or partnering with a local community group to learn about the way rural residents receive health care, the Center for Rural Partnerships is poised to play a unique and integral role in our rural community. It’s a position PSU is proud to take up.”

The CRP will be headed by Dr. Thaddeus C. Guldbrandsen, a research assistant professor of anthropology at PSU and former University of New Hampshire faculty member. Guldbrandsen will work with community leaders, including elected officials, community groups, schools, developers and others to preserve and enhance New Hampshire’s rural quality of life. The needs of the community will generate the goals of the center, helping drive the research and service agenda.

“Through these connections and discussions with various members of the rural community, we will establish project-oriented goals,” said Guldbrandsen. “For example, one group might be well-served by research that ultimately leads to the initiation of legislation that benefits the community. Another group might partner with us to produce a conference or event that serves as a means of disseminating research results and sharing ideas. There might also be a need for a publication that disseminates information to, for example, developers interested in ecologically viable building within rural communities. Ultimately, we hope that through this process, we become a partner of choice in the state of New Hampshire in terms of serving the rural communities.”

Rural New Hampshire includes large portions of the state including Coos, Grafton, Carroll, Belknap, Sullivan and Cheshire counties. PSU is in the geographic center of the state and serves as the literal rural center of New Hampshire. By leveraging its location and resources, Plymouth State University and the CRP can be an advocate for rural communities, said Guldbrandsen.

“Community leaders from around the North Country and rural New Hampshire identified the need for a central “convener” and source for reliable information, and President Wharton answered the call by establishing this Center,” said Guldbrandsen. “I’m happy to be a part of serving the state in this way.”

Plymouth State University, founded in 1871, is a coeducational, residential university with an enrollment of approximately 3,800 undergraduate students and 1,500 graduate students. A regional comprehensive university, PSU preserves the brick-and-ivy look of its New England small college heritage while integrating state-of-the-art technology and facilities into an attractive, contemporary campus design and dynamic educational environment. PSU is a cultural center for the area, as well, with numerous concerts, lectures, art exhibitions, films, dance and theatre performances on campus.