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company and its neighbourhood affect each other (Hunt/Grunig 1994, 10).


Community relations for German universities

Thomas Pleil

why companies try to improve the acceptance of a plant within the population of a city, its politicians and public authorities with community relations (Grger 2000; 9). The aim is the integration with society (Caywood 1997, xi). It is tried to create a winwin-situation both for the company and its neighbourhood: On the one hand the

While companies practice community relations since many years, European and especially German universities in many cases dont address their stakeholders in the neighbourhood systematically. In contrast, universities in the United States typically have own departments for community relations that are organizing many partnerships between universities and their community. Many institutions like European Commission stress the importance of international strategies of universities as well as the importance of universities in their specific regions. This paper focuses the necessity of strategic community relations for research institutions and universities and it gives some examples how this could be done. It is suggested to build up an European institution doing research on higher education community relations and to help universities in practicing projects with their community.

company shows respect for the needs of its local publics and tries to support them e.g. with charity or cultural programs. On the other hand local publics should understand the needs of companies and feel that they are useful for the development of the region. The discussion on corporate citizenship2 (e.g. Habisch 2002, Bockelman 2000) in consequence is enforcing community relations especially in Europe at the moment.3

In the United States since the 1960s urban problems forced institutions and especially companies to pay more attention to their relationships with surrounding com-

The emergence of community relations Today, nearly every large company in the US as well as in Europe or Australia is practicing community relations systematically . According to Bruning/Ledingham community relations are one of three types of relationship between organizations and regional key publics (Bruning/Ledingham 1999, 163pp). The other dimensions of relationships between organizations and key publics are personal and professional relationships. Community relations in this context are strategic communication efforts with local publics. Against this, personal relationships of employers or management of an organization with local publics cannot be managed and planned like community relations by the department of public relations. In difference to that professional relationships mean not only relationships in communication but for example a companys relationship with its local suppliers or the administration of a city.

munities (Baskin/Aronoff 1988, 219). Thats why community relations came up. But community relations do not only show goodwill to the community, but they reflect the interdependence of an organization and its environment (Grunig/Hunt 1984, 266). For example, companies know the advantage in recruiting qualified stuff in an attractive surrounding. In consequence, community relations are not only the communication between an organization and its regional stakeholders but they have also a strong emphasis on relationship building and partnering with the community. Within the past five years this conceptualisation of community relations was overtaken more and more by PR scholars for nearly every field of public relations which now are defined not only as a communication function but as well as relationship management4 (e.g. Brody 2002, Brunig 2002). Relations with the community could enclose health and welfare, education, government, culture, recreation and other areas (Baskin/Aronoff 1988, 229).

Companies having a systematical strategy in community relations know: It is essential for every-days work and therefore for every-days success to be accepted e.g. with a plant in the neighbourhood. Sure, a big plant of a company in a specific town means advantages like taxes, jobs etc. But also disadvantages like pollution, traffic, parking problems, crowded schools and daycares, increasing costs of living the

Though, the European discussion on corporate citizenship as well as on community relations as a part of this concept focuses on the behaviour of companies. Non-profit organizations as actors nearly dont come up in both discussions. At first sight this seems to be obvious since a lot of non-profit organizations like environmental groups are especially supported by companies because these companies want to be good

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


corporate citizens. Therefore in some way non-profit organizations are consignee instead of corporate citizens. And what about community relations? Obviously, many non-profit organizations are local, so their communication and community relations are the same. But it is assumed that community relations bears a meaning for all kinds of organizations. In contrast, especially in Germany - community relations seem not to be a discussed field of strategic communication.

Also the conference of Germanys ministries of education published a paper that underlines the role of universities in supporting to build profiles and competiveness of regions (Kultusministerkonferenz 2002, 7). A similar direction has the European Commission: Beside many other challenges, universities should strengthen their efforts in integrating themselves into regional networks or help to build up such networks. The commission mentions not only the co-operation with economic but also with social actors in the region (European Commission 2003, 25). This proves: Uni-

But for many organizations it should be for the same reasons why companies are practicing community relations strategically. Fuderholz determined a further connection: Analysing factors of success of international communication strategies of cities and regions he detected that successful international communication started at home with the communication within the community which is being seen as the next step following internal communications of an organization (Fuderholz 2003, 78). In other words: Organizations planning international pr-activities should start their efforts at home first internally, second with the community and then countrywide and international.

versities play new roles in their regions going further than building up science parks or trying to improve spin offs. German Institute for Economic Research (Deutsches Institut fr Wirtschaftsforschung, DIW) accents the role of universities similarely: Universities are seen as a location factor with the chance of supporting regional economy e.g. through the transfer of know how to regional companies (Blume, Fromm 2000, 109).

Whilst the economic transmision between universities and regional networks are well explored and descripted with best-practice models the other factors like service and cultural exchange between universities and their regions at least in Germany are rather vague. A sound discussion on the regional role of universities in Germany did

The role of universities in their community Lets have a quick look on universities as a special group of non-profit organizations5 and their role within their region. Like other institutions universities are viewed as open systems interacting with their environment (Escher 2001). The German act on universities (Hochschulrahmengesetz, HRG) defines the development and care for arts and science as main duties of the 99 universities6. Research, education and studies are instruments of practicing this (HRG 1999, 2.1). The voice of German universities, German Rectors Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) sees universities not only as important institutions for research and education but also with an important role for cultural life and for the region. HRK especially emphazises the role of universities for regional structural policy. Further, HRK accents the role of universities as an employer comparable with midsize companies (HRK 1995) and the importance of services like healthcare, the transfer of science or advanced training. Most of these services are primary offered within the region of a university.

not take place within science and politics yet. In contrast to that are the political intentions of the Finnish government. For example, the development plan of Finnish universities for 1999 2004 published by the government accents among other challenges the role of universities in safeguarding regional effectiveness (Ministry of Education Finland 2003, 8):

In spring 2002, the Ministry of Education published its own regional strategy extending up to 2013, in which the focus is on ensuring a stronger regional impact for education and research. () Universities have also participated in a number of regional development programmes (centres of expertise, regional centres). (ibd, 17) Until today Finland has continiued in strenghening the role of universities in their regions. Since 1998 several Finnish universities have been evaluated with emphasis on their regional role. In 2004 the Finnish Universities Act is being amended to include the civic mission as the third basic responsibility of universities, as an almost parallel concept to research and teaching (Kantanen 2004,2). Finnish politics aims

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


at strengthening the social role of universities. This is a simoultanous strategy to the efforts of internationalising Europes universities.

Few institutions have more to offer in propelling economic development on both a national and local basis than our nations colleges and universities. They are the creators and disseminators of knowledge and understanding that can help address urban challenges. As leading institutions in their communities, they are powerful economic drivers, technology centres, employers, developers and investors. (Rosan 2002) What could universities and their members do? The U.S. Department of Housing and

CSR and community relations of universities

This social role brings us back to the concept of CSR. Here, the issue seems to be more complex: In some cases universities could profit from corporate citizens, e.g. from special programmes of software companies or donations for better equipment in science in these cases universities are consignee. But can universities be good corporate citizens, too? Probably yes. Sure, with their general tasks teaching and research they are producing profit for society directly. To some extends universities should discuss if there are further aspects making them a corporate citizen. This could help them to build an own profile which will ease to differentiate from each other. Therefore, corporate citizenship could be one aspect of a role model and a brick of success in competing with other universities. US-American universities did make this step: Many of them have social responsibility written into the mission statements (Maurrasse 2002, 133).

Urban Development (HUD) gives some examples:

Faculty members and students can offer their neighbours talent, expertise, and problem-solving skills that are relevant to many facets of community life. Schools also can bring knowledge of various disciplines, including healthcare, education, economics, sociology, environmental management, business, information technology, architecture, urban design, administration of justice, and urban planning, to bear on local issues. (HUD 2003, 2) German and European universities traditionally have many projects and some communication activities linking them with the neighbourhood. For example, usually Libraries are public; universities typically organize cultural events, some organize science festivals, and universities together with public institutions invest in science parks or start-ups that also help regional development. But many of these activities seem not to be practiced and communicated systematically. It seems that German

On the other hand, many universities naturally play a strong local role in their town. They should be aware of that fact and should enforce their community relations and practice them systematically even since universities could bring similar advantages and disadvantages to their neighbourhoods like companies. Beside that, since a long time often there are special conflict lines between universities and their neighbourhood: Town versus gown conflicts are common (Baskin/Aronoff 1988, 220) in the relationship between universities and their community.

universities typically dont have a strategic conzeptualization of community relations and so they arent adressing the community within their communication systematically: In July 2004 there has been no website of a German university adressing especially their community. Indeed, several websites adress visitors who may be also belonging to regional publics but in general these publics differ from each other. Further there seems to be a lack in activating students and employees most of the activities linking universities to their neighbourhood seem to be institutional but not personal. For example, volunteering of stuff or students in the region typically isnt a

Today, in the US community relations of universities are much more than communication but also strategic partnership building. Foundations such as Kellogg and Fannie Mae often support these partnerships (Maurrassee 2001, 131). The reason for the strong interest in partnerships between universities and their community in the US explains Richard A. Rosan, President of the Urban Land Institute:

topic for any communication. This means in both fields in activities and in communication is space for improvements. Otherwise the neighbourhood of an university only can know by accident what they can expect of it. No wonder: Not only in PR-practice of German universities but also in PR-theory there seems to be no sound perception of community relations. Even in the few European publications about universities public relations

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


especially the communication of science is in the center of interest7. Community relations nearly dont take place . For good reasons on the one hand since the legal mission of German universities until today is to enforce science and to educate students. On the other hand community relations could help universities to do these jobs better.

But like many other non profit-organizations universities seem to have a general problem in communication: The nonprofit sector has done little to help evolve the publics understanding of its operations and role in American society, Carson states (Carson 2002, 431). Carson shows the danger of this situation: Moreover, a scandal involving one company or small business seldom impugns the reputation of all forprofit companies. (...) By contrast, any breakage, spillage, or theft that would be ac-

Probably any university feels that its job is doing research and education. But additionally there are further expectations from society: For example, investments in universities often are linked with the hope of strengthening regional networks9 and longterm prosperity of a region. Co-operations between universities and the regional economy can help to meet such expectations (BACHMANN et.al. 2001). But beside these efforts, there may be stakeholders10 in the neighbourhood of a university who show the need of community relations, too.

cepted as the normal cost of doing routine business for a profit or government agency is considered unacceptable for a nonprofit and proof of the entire sectors ineptitude (ibid). We believe, Carsons statement has relevance also for Europe and especially for universities, too. And we believe too, that community relations are an important - but by European PR-practitioners often underestimated - instrument helping to improve the publics understanding of universities.

The example of Catholic University of Eichsttt and Ingolstadt and its regional activiCommunity relations need an organization to be open with community members, and the organization should help to improve social and economic aspects of the community (ibid, 165). With community relations and further communication strategies like public affairs within the social environment the organization seeks to keep room for manoeuvre and legitimation (Zerfass 1996, 302). Therefore, this article tries to show that the dimension of community relations has its relevance in PR-plans for universities. For example: Catholic University of Eichsttt and Ingolstadt (KU) To avoid misunderstandings: Community relations are one aspect of a public relations strategy and typically the communication of science and education is the most Beside these public relations aspects there is an important connection with research and teaching: Societies invest a lot of money in universities, and thats why universities have the duty to maximize the profit of these investments for society. To avoid misunderstandings: We assume that research and its gain of knowledge is one kind of profit for society. And well-educated alumni with good perspectives for their careers are another kind of profit for society. But we assume too, that beside these classical worldviews there could be further profits. One is the support of universities for regional development. This means not only economic prosperity but also social and cultural life and in the end these factors may influence the international competitive position of a region (European Commission 2003). important challenge for a universitys PR officer. The relevance of community relations will depend on the individual situation of each university and the interdepence between the organization and local publics.11 It will also depend on the activation of these local publics12 and it will depend on the possibilities of an university: Not every kind of research practiced at an university is suitable for community projects. Political expectations about the role of universities within their community also show, that community relations of a university are much more than communication. On the other side: Since many universities have very limited resources it seems to be the best way that such activities are co-ordinated by the department for public relations. ties shall give some impressions to help to answer the question of the European Commission in which fields and in what way universities could help to improve regional development (ibid, 26).

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Exemplary we investigate the efforts in community relations of Catholic University of Eichsttt and Ingolstadt (KU). The following information is based on own experience since the author was head of the universities public relations department. Further information were collected with the help of interviews, the analysis of the universities website and of documents of the department for public relations.

the whole country than other universities in Germany typically do. Only about 40 per cent of the students come from the region of Eichsttt13.

Challenges for community relations of the KU The supraregional and even an international focus therefore characterize the KU as

The KU is the only catholic university in German speaking countries. KU was erected by the Bavarian Bishops who established a foundation which is running the university. Head of the foundation is the Bishop of Eichsttt. He is in a similar role like the minister of science against state universities: For KU, for example, the bishop convenes new scientists. Since KU and its certificates are acknowledged by state authorities the ministry of science has to affirm relevant decisions of the university, too.

well as regional aspects. For gaining scientists for the university especially supraregional aspects are relevant. For gaining students both regional and supraregional are important since some courses of study attract students nationwide and others attract mainly students of the region14 . At the same time the university has several challenges in the community to be a successful organization15. Here are some of them:

KU is open for all students and it offers bachelor- and master-degrees, diplomas, doctorates and also the habilitation like public universities. About 40 subjects mainly humanities - are offered for study. Founded in 1980 the KU is one of the youngest German universities, and with about 4.500 students its one of the smallest. Though, KU is very international: student exchange is practiced with about 130 universities worldwide. The state Bavaria gives 85 per cent of the universities regular budget, the Catholic Church finances 15 per cent. Donations, sponsoring and revenues from projects with the business raise the means of the university in a dimension of about 5 per cent. -

PR begins at home: the KU is a young university and even in Eichsttt many people still dont know how the university works, which subjects are teached and what kind of research is being done. Local Business and private persons are important sponsors and donators. The KU should be realized as an important factor for cultural life and education and local economy. Regarding economy not only the direct and indirect secured jobs are relevant but also the scientific knowledge that can help to improve the local situation. Since KU is not active in natural science and engineering but in economics, the humanities and cultural studies it is important to show possibilities of co-operations with companies and regional network building.

Eichsttt, the main seat of the university, is a small town sited between Munich and Nuremberg. Because of its situation in a national park and its famous architecture the region of Eichsttt attracts thousands of tourists every year. But: Eichsttt is a city with only 14.000 inhabitants. During the terms there have to be added 3.000 students. In Eichsttt, the KU gives about 500 people in the administration and for teaching a job. Further 1.000 students plus staff for teaching and administration are situated 30 km away in Ingolstadt, a city with 110.000 inhabitants. Several rankings showed that KU is one of Germanys top universities. This fact and the fact of being the only catholic university in German speaking countries attract more students from

The potential of students coming from the region should not be ignored. In a small city for everyone all disadvantages of the university like increasing traffic, parking problems and increasing costs of living are obvious.

Citizens, politicians and local administration should be mobilized in favour of their university. For several reasons this is an extremely important challenge: o Theres a need for a climate for private and public investments to improve local infrastructure (e.g. house building, public transporting). o The cultural life of a town has to be recognized as a factor helping to attract best scientists and students coming from all over the country or

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


from foreign countries, and often they are familiar with the infrastructure of a big city. o Especially in a little town where students and scientists attract attention, citizens and the administration have to be very open-minded against them. o In a few years, the KU probably will have a plus of 25 per cent in number of students. This means, the university has to build new lecture halls, the town will also need further housing capacities, and it has to cope with more traffic. o Regarding the thousands of tourists visiting Eichsttt every year the people living in Eichsttt should be good recruiters for their university. o In the summer term students and tourists compete for habitations. o Many students have to do practical trainings; others need a job to earn some money during their time at KU16.

Local economy The media (including calendars of events) Schools and teachers Citizens The cultural scene Local politicians The Bishop and the diocese

In contrast to other PR-programmes community relations cannot be realized just by the public relations department. The latter co-ordinates the efforts together with the president, but the office has not the personnel to realize the strategy itself and there doesnt exist a separate office for community relations like universities in the United States typically pursue18. Many of the efforts of KU are not initiated top down but they where started by students, institutes or scientists. Efforts like these are sponsored by the president not only idealistically but also with budgets, rooms etc. The PR-

It is obvious that some of the listed items are very specific for the KU; others have also relevance for other universities. Probably these have to face further challenges. This is valid e.g. especially for universities practicing nature science like physics (thinking about nuclear research17 or research needing large and expensive laboratories).

department is responsible for the communication and co-ordination of these efforts and it initiates new services or projects.

Community relations of KU are a mixture of communication, special services, and relationship-building. It is agreed at the university that stakeholders of community relations should not only be partners in communication (e.g. through personal contacts, media relations, open doors) but also should feel some direct advantages19 of the KU. The table gives some examples of this strategy: :

The management of KU regularly discusses their challenges and it was decided that specific communication efforts and services for the neighbourhood are important to improve community relations. Beside the communication of research, the communication of the good conditions for studying, community relations are the third brick of the external public relations strategy of KU.

Stakeholder Citizens

Service Part time students

Explanation By paying a very moderate fee, interested persons can visit regular lectures of the university without the need of examination. This option addresses especially housewives or retired persons seeking for further education. Facilities: Clubs and other organizations can use rooms of the university for a low fee; sporting clubs and schools can use the sports facilities of the KU without any fees. Instead of building new lecture halls and offices the university usually first tries to renovate not used historically important old houses in town. The libraries of the university with about 1.7 million books are open to the public

How are community relations defined at KU? First, its defined geographically. That means the university pays special attention to the region within a radius of about 50 km. Second, the special stakeholders in this region are defined and then addressed with particular communication and networking activities.
Protection of historic buildings Libraries Facilities

The main stakeholders within KUs community relations are:

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities



Every year students donate for Christmas decoration for kindergartens. In 2002 employees and students organized a campaign for people suffering with leukaemia: more than 300 people registered for the worldwide database and nearly 18.000 Euro were collected. Also in 2002 students of the arts donated several paintings for a recently built old peoples home. In 2003 the university helped to organize medical help for Iraqi children in co-operation with a local NGO. A separate society is organizing service learning and other voluntary activities of the KU students in the region.

Beside special services partnership-building with the local publics is the second brick of KUs community relations. Some examples are: The head of the county, the mayor of Eichsttt and the president of KU regularly meet to discuss developments and plans in the region and of the university. Also local politicians like members of the towns council are regularly informed about the plans of the university. The head of the county and the mayor of Eichsttt are involved in important events of KU: For example, the mayor welcomes new students and the head of the county holds a reception for international students. The KU and local media co-operate in many fields: The local newspaper for example announces every public event of the university and it further publishes special pages about research and projects of scientists, and the regional radio stations transmits once a week the students radio. Contacts to other stakeholders e.g. with the bishop or sponsors of KU are more personal.

Service learning Local economy Economic Forum

Together with the chamber of commerce and the organization of young entrepreneurs the KU organizes once a year an economic forum. The three partners invite managers of regional large companies like Audi as well as managers of local trade, banking or craftsmen of the whole region. Scientists of KU there present new results of their research that may help them to be successful in their business.20 Further the university presents new courses like a MBA in this context. If participants of the forum need scientific help - e.g. for a marketing study - the public relations department helps them to get in touch with scientists or with students who have founded a management consultancy. Several scientists are working closely with the organizations of regional tourism to build up new attractions for tourism and to improve their marketing. Students run a consultancy which is also active in this field. Nearly every lecture of guest scientists to multiple subjects is open for the public. Since lectures like these are organized typically in the evening people are able to attend them after work easily. Further there are regular concerts e.g. from the big band or the universities choir and the library organizes several exhibitions per year attracting typically some thousand visitors. Cultural and educational events like these are published on the starting page of KUs web site, in special calendars of events distributed in restaurants, cafes and shops and in the local newspaper. The KU is one of the few universities in Germany with a school of arts especially for children. The school is open for all children interested e.g. in painting and modelling and its organized by a professor of arts and his students who get some training for their jobs as teachers. The university organizes for the teachers of regional schools free extended vocational trainings.


Partnership in tourism

The cultural scene

Cultural events and lectures

The examples show that community relations of KU try to enhance the quality of life for the people living in the neighbourhood of the university. As an effect of this, KU hopes to be supported in its own development by private persons, businessmen and the local administration as well. Several aims of community relations are defined clearly in KUs communication strategy: Especially in a small town like Eichsttt with 15.000 citizens and now about 3.500 students both sides need tolerance. Community relations are aimed to promote this especially on the side of the citizens. Activities targeting local business aim to improve the financial situation of KU as well as the

School of Arts

Schools and teachers The media (including calendars of events) All stakeholders


chances of graduates to get into jobs. Eventually KU should be acknowledged as an important factor of regional development. Since October 2003 some of the efforts in networking helped to finance a new chair for tourism science at KU donated by local economy and banks. This success story has not only - an enormous symbolic impact especially in times when budgets are cut short at Bavarian universities.

Media Services In addition to the traditional media relations the departement of public relations provides regional media with complete articles about events but also about scientific projects at KU. Calendars of events are provided regularly with an overview of public events at KU. Newsletter and Magazine All stakeholders can subscribe an e-mail newsletter and the universities magazine free of charge. A print-magazine is also distributed in regional shops and banks.

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Discussion Also universities need to organize to some extend community relations. Especially US-American, but also Australian universities have good reasons doing this systematically. European universities have to be aware of the advantages: Good relationships with the neighbourhood support daily work at a university and they are an important condition for its development. In this concern community relations ease the achievement of the main goals of a university: doing research and education. Further, community relations are an important basis on regional networking. Cooperations between universities, regional business and administration could be eased if the community is recognized as a strategic partner. For example, opening the doors of laboratories for managers of regional business or the presentation of results of research e.g. on management topics are likely to build regional networks helping to enhance a communitys prosperation. By the way: Acting like this is not a signal of a new philanthropy of universities: Universities are forced to acquire third party budgets e.g. with special research services (Tonnemacher 1998, 175). In other words: Community relations also can support the regional marketing of a university. Further, partnerships with the community give students practical experiences, they train important social qualifications, and they set topics for applied science.

What are the expectations of regional stakeholders? How could regional activities go along with every-day business of universities? How can scientists, lecturers, employees and students of a university being motivated to devote themselves to regional development? How could partnerships between universities and their community effectively being organized? How could such partnerships being evaluated? Could first steps of such partnerships being granted by public institutions, foundations, or local business? Which kind of partnerships between European universities and their region do exist yet? What are the experiences with these partnerships?

The example of Catholic University of Eichsttt and Ingolstadt shows that even a small university can develop many activities in community relations. These activities have been developed because the management and many professors of the university personally are clearly committed to the neighbourhood of the university. A logical - and planned - next step is to practice and to communicate this even more systematically e.g. by publishing special brochures for the neighbourhood or with concrete strategies for online PR. So, community relations and especially their co-ordination and their communication have to be done by the department of public relations even since public relations is the practice of public responsibility. (Hunt/Grunig 1994, 10).

Also from a political and economic point of view community relations is a necessity for universities: The important role of universities for regional development is often being stated, by the European Commission as well as by regional politicians. We assume that community relations are one important step to fit these expectations. Therefore, community relations of universities have to be enforced theoretically and in practice. There are many questions for research and practice like: But many European PR officers of universities have problems to fulfil this: They traditionally have not enough staff and budget even for the basics of public relations (Tonnemacher 1998, Barthenheier 1996) and many of them therefore will have problems to start intensively with community relations programs. Further problems are connected with the heterogeneous organization of universities: German universities typically have about 12 nearly independend faculties with different divisions, institutes How do PR practioners of universities perform community relations? What exactly can community relations achieve for the university? How far could universities be social responsible against their neighbourhood? What are the chances and the limits of university-community partnerships? and departments all of them with their own culture (Escher 2001, 26). This complicates not only the development of an overall strategy for public relations but also for community relations, espcially since the motivation of the departments differs.

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Since the importance of universities for regional development is clear, programs being able to support universities in this challenge should be discussed. Such support in this context should be viewed in several dimensions: One kind of support is practical, for example, to help financing brochures, websites, events and special offers for the neighbourhood. Another, not less important kind of support is mental: Public relations managers should be aware of the need and the possibility of partnerships between universities and their community, and they should be supported in motivating all members of their university. In many cases public relations practitioners can coordinate or initiate partnerships between their university and the community - but on the long run the political system should support this, and it should help to motivate the members of universities to get active. At the moment probably many of them do not see any necessity for starting up with own activities - especially if they do not know how they could gain from it.

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In 1994 the US-Department of Housing and Urban Developments established the Office of University Partnerships (OUP)21, an office having the clear assignment to help to improve partnerships between institutions of higher education and their communities through grant programs, conferences and related research. OUP has several goals like promoting examples of universities activities in local revitalization projects, encouraging scholars to work on community development policy, or creating support for innovative teaching, research, and service partnerships between universities and communities.

European universities could be strong pillars of regional development - no kind of organization has as highly qualified stuff as universities, and they are used to interchange knowledge international. What is missing are stronger strategies to make this useful for regional development. A European institution similar to the OUP could be the necessary catalyst therefore. It could do scientific work in doing research on the questions mentioned above. And it could help to enforce community relations of European universities practically with raising awareness, consulting, and grant programs.

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Goldhaber, Gerald M. (1993): Organizational Communication, Madison. Grger, Pia (2000): Social Sponsoring am Beispiel des gesellschaftspolitischen Engagements der BMW Group, Diplomarbeit, Passau. Grunig, James/Hunt Todd (1984): Managing Public Relations, New York. Hochschulrahmengesetz as of January 19, 1999 (German act on universities), http://www.bmbf.de/pub/hrg_20020815.pdf (Download 8.7.2004) Escher, Henning (2001): Public Relations fr wissenchaftliche Hochschulen. Systemtheoretische Grundlegung und exemplarische Modellierung im Wettbewerbsumfeld, Mnchen und Mering. European Commission (2002): Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development, Bruxelles 02/07/2002, http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/soc-dial/csr/csr_index.htm (8.7.2004) European Commission (2003): Die Rolle der Universitten im Europa des Wissens, Bruxelles 2003 (Mitteilung der Kommission, Feb., 2nd, 2003). Hunt, Todd/Grunig, James (1994): Public Relations Techniques, Fort Worth. Hochschulrektorenkonferenz HRK (1995): Zur ffentlichkeitsarbeit der Hochschulen. Empfehlungen des 176. Plenums vom 3. Juli 1995, http://www.hrk.de/de/beschluesse/109_565.php#Die%20Hochschulen%20in%2 0der%20Gesellschaft (2.7.2004) Janisch, Monika (1993): Das strategische Anspruchsgruppenmanagement, Bern, Stuttgart, Wien. Kantanen, Helena (2004): Civic Mission and Social Responsibility. New Challenges for the Praxis of Public Rrelations in Higher Education. Paper presented on the 11th International Public Reletions Research Symposium, 2-4- Juli 2004, Lake Bled,Slovenija, http://www.bledcom.com/pdf/papers/HelenaKantanen.pdf (26.6.2004) Kultusministerkonferenz (2003): Hochschule und Gesellschaft, Bonn (Whitepaper of the Conference of Germanys education ministries, settled on December, 5th, 2002) Kromrey, Helmut (1986): Empirische Sozialforschung: Modelle und Methoden der Datenerhebung und Datenauswertung, 3rd ed., Opladen Lamnek, Siegfried (1993): Qualitative Sozialforschung, Vol 2, 2nd ed., Mnchen Maletzke, Gerhard (2002): Zwischen Elfenbeinturm und Circus Maximus; in: Public Relations Forum, 1/2002, 44-46. Maurrasse, David J. (2002): Higher Education-Community Relationships: Assessing Progress in the Field, Nonprofit and Voluntarity Sector Quarterly, vol. 31, no 1, March 2002, 131-139. Rosan, Richard M. (2002): The Key Role of Universities in Our Nations Economic Growth and Urban Revitalization; speech published on http://experts.uli.org/content/whoswho/officers/rosan/rosan_C7.htm (May, 2nd 2003) Scholl, Wolfgang /Wurzel, Ulrich G. (2002): Erfolgsbedingungen regionaler Innovationsnetzwerke Ein organisationstheoretisches Kausalmodell (DIW Discussion Paper 21) Berlin. Tonnemacher, Jan (1982): ffentlichkeitsarbeit an Hochschulen Ein Fallbeispiel ber die Vermittlung von Hochschulpolitik und Universittsforschung an die ffentlichkeit. In: Haedrich, Gnther/Bartenheier, Gnter/Kleinert, Horst (Hg.): ffentlichkeitsarbeit. Dialog zwischen Institutionen und Gesellschaft, Berlin, New York 1982.

Tonnemacher, Jan (1998): Neue Aufgaben Alte Misere. Bayern HochschulPressestellen und das neue Hochschulgesetz, in: Public Relations Forum, Nr. 3/1998, 174-176. Zerfass, Ansgar (1996): Unternehmensfhrung und ffentlichkeitsarbeit. Grundlegung einer Theorie der Unternehmenskommunikation und Public Relations, Opladen.

E.g. Adobe (see: www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/philanthropy/main.html; 2004-07-07), IBM (see: www.ibm.com/ibm/ibmgives ; 2004-07-07)), Kodak (see: www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/community.shtml; 2004-07-07) 2 Corporate citizenship is used here synonymous with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) 3 In this discussion Europe has an obvious lag behind the United States. 4 In this worldview the public relations practitioner has to take into consideration the consistency in organizations messages and behaviours (BRODY 2002, 8). 5 Especially German universities have to be defined as non-profit organizations since most of them are carried by the states without tuition fees for regular students. 6 In all there are 359 university-level institutions in Germany (including for example 158 universities of applied science) (Federal Statistical Office Germany 2003) 7 The programme PUSH (Public understanding of Science) is an outstanding example (e.g. Maletzke 2002) 8 Even newer studies like the systems theory based one of Escher on Public Relations of Universities dont discuss the role of the region or of community relations for universities (Escher 2001). 9 For the relevance of regional networks or clusters see Drewello/Wurzel 2002; an overview about network research give Scholl/Wurzel 2002. 10 For the concept of stakeholders see e.g. JANISCH 1993, xxx 11 Local publics are e.g. the inhabitants of the city the organization is situated, the cities organizations (e.g. chamber of commerce), local authorities, local politicians, and the local media. 12 For a brief introduction in the theory of activism and PR planning see Hunt/Grunig 1994, 10-16. 13 This means they come from cities up to about 50 km away from Eichsttt or from Eichsttt itself. 14 Two faculties of KU are organized as universities of applied science which are aligned regional in Germany. Further the education of teachers which has an important role for KU is organized statewide i.e. studying lectureship for schools is only attractive for Bavarian students. 15 Since the seat of KU is Eichsttt and since several problems are more obvious in a small town the challenges for the second seat, Ingolstadt, can be ignored in this article. Some of the Eichsttt challenges are also relevant for Ingolstadt. 16 Two of three students of KU have a job during the terms or during holiday (Fuchs 2002). 17 For example, the plan of building a reactor for nuclear research near Munich (Garching) provoked a yearlong public quarrel. 18 The UC Berkeley has an office for community relations with 5 people, the University of Southern California even has 12 employees working for community relations. See http://communityrelations.berkeley.edu/Pages/AbouttheOffice.html (06.05.2003) On the other hand it is known, that German public universities typically do not have the budget to manage the realization of a recommendation the German university presidents gave in the 1970s to cope with the public relations jobs of this time. In other words: Typically the public relations departments of German universities have not even the manpower to solve the communication problems of the 70s (Barthenheier 1996, Tonnemacher 1998). 19 At the moment, KU does not have a passed mission statement yet, but being a service provider not only for students but also for the community is consent. 20 The forum deals for example with customer relationship management or compatibility of family and job for employees. 21 www.oup.org

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities


This full text was submitted to Public Relations Review in August 2004.

Contact to the Author: Prof. Dr. Thomas Pleil FH Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences pleil@fh-darmstadt.de http://www.journalismus-darmstadt.de http://www.thomas-pleil.de
Prof. Dr. Thomas Pleil head the department of public relations of the Catholic University of Eichsttt and Ingolstadt (Germany) from 1998 to 2004. Since Summer 2004 he is professor for public relations at the university of applied sciences in Darmstadt.

Thomas Pleil 2004: Community relations for German universities