Community Poverty and the University

Thank you for helping us make the Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law & Policy’s Volume 29 Symposium such a great success!

If you were not able to make it, or if you would like to watch the proceedings again, please see the links below under the schedule of events.


The Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law & Policy’s Volume 29 Symposium will be framed around the role of universities as producers, managers, and opponents of poverty in local communities, especially in light of the social changes and challenges of the COVID-19

Across the country, universities hold significant influence in local communities due to their function as educators, service-providers, employers, private law enforcement, property owners, and investment vehicles. Universities provide important educational programming to their student body, produce invaluable academic research, and often provide services to their neighboring communities. At the same time, over 4,000 universities employ sworn officers as campus police – usually armed – with expansive authority but without equivalent public reporting requirements as municipal police. Many universities generate more revenue from real estate ownership and endowment investment than educational services such as tuition and fees. In two- thirds of America’s hundred largest cities as well as multiple states, a university is the largest single employer. Some universities’ tax-exempt status has transformed them into an investment opportunity free of restrictions imposed on other private foundations. These various roles, combined with their productive and cultural value, give the modern university the opportunity to engage with city and state politicians and drive policy around diverse areas from zoning and land use, labor and employment, law enforcement, emergency management, and many others. It is critical to discover new and different roles that universities can play, examine best practices and models for university engagement with communities, and identify opportunities for universities
to challenge poverty.


Schedule of Events:

Watch the full Symposium here

1:00: Opening remarks

1:15-2:15:  Keynote Address: The Miseducation of Public Citizens (Watch it here)

Professor Etienne C. Toussaint, South Carolina School of Law

2:20-3:20: Panel 1: Access to Education for Nontraditional Students (Watch it here)

Moderator: Vincent Palacios, Senior Policy Analyst, Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality’s Economic Security & Opportunity Initiative


CJ Powell, Senior Advisor, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S Department of Education

Professor Katherine Broton, University of Iowa Departments of Educational Policy & Leadership Studies and Sociology

Winston Berkman-Breen, Deputy Director of Advocacy & Policy Counsel, Student Borrower Protection Center

3:30-4:30: Panel 2: The Role of Universities in Community Development (Watch it here)

Moderator: Caitlin Cocilova ’15, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy Emeritus


Professor Anthony Cook, Georgetown University Law Center

Professor Anita Brown-Graham, Director, ncIMPACT Initiative & Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Doctor Sabine O’Hara, Dean & Director of Landgrant Programs, College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, District of Columbia University

4:35-5:15: Panel 3: Universities as Employers and Labor Rights (Watch it here)

Moderator: Tory Valenti, Symposium Editor, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy


Mark Gaston Pearce, Executive Director, Workers Rights Institute and Distinguished Lecturer, Georgetown University Law Center

Jeremy Canfield, Lead Organizer for Natural and Biomedical Sciences, Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees