New organization replaces Volker Neighborhood Council with improved practices
The University of Missouri-Kansas City recently announced the launch of the Neighborhood Advisory Council as the University’s standing organization for neighborhood dialogue. The Council is the successor organization to the Volker Neighborhood Council (VNC) that operated from 2002-2015.
The Council is being formed in recognition of the unique mutual interests of the campus and neighborhoods that exist in this area and is open to residents of the nine communities that surround the university’s Volker Campus: 49/63 Coalition; Countryside Homes; Crestwood Homes; Rockhill Crest; Rockhill Homes; Rockhill Ridge; South Plaza; Troost Plateau; and Troostwood.
Interested residents were encouraged to apply for Council membership when the new organization was first announced in early February. The March 18 deadline announced at that time is approaching soon.
All applications will be reviewed by an independent Membership Review Committee that will make final recommendations to the UMKC Chancellor. Applicants must possess a strong interest in neighborhood dialogue plus a willingness to engage with community members and University staff in and between monthly meetings. References provided by each applicant will be used to verify a personal history of respectful and collegial interaction in previous committee, council or task force work.
According to the Council application, “UMKC acknowledges that leadership embraces the desire of individuals to serve the greater good. This is not a group that results in a winner or loser but rather, a group that moves together toward a mutual goal — a vibrant, working neighborhood that serves the needs of those who live and work within its borders.”
Methods of engagement that support the growth and development of the Neighborhood Advisory Council partnership are based on recognized best practices, including a format used successfully by UMKC’s immediate neighbor, Rockhurst University, and endorsed by current VNC members. The new Council differs from the VNC in several important ways:
- Service does not require applicants to be currently serving on the governing board of their neighborhood organizations, opening the new Council to a wider range of viewpoints and input;
- Meeting frequency will increase from quarterly to monthly;
- Meeting length will decrease from no time limit to a one-hour time limit.
- A graduate student will be added as a University liaison;
- The Council has its own Facebook page, and interested community members will be encouraged to participate in exchanges, ask questions, make comments and provide input to posted documents and University plans;
- An independent, professional facilitator has been hired to encourage Council and University accountability, promote forward-moving action, ensure appropriate behavior and support and recognize neighborhood and university work done outside the meetings.
“This partnership between UMKC and the surrounding neighborhoods recognizes that we all share the respectful use of the land we occupy,” UMKC leaders stated in an overview of the Neighborhood Advisory Council guidelines. “Because our lands intermingle, so must we.”