The UK, Lexington love affair: Expert to help polish campus neighborhoods

By Colin Walsh and Joy Priest

Conversation is the key to any successful marriage.

It is a bit hard to imagine Lexington without UK, and vice versa. Tonight a speaker will discuss why it is a hard marriage to break, and why it is one worth strengthening.

Omar Blaik, the founder of higher education and community integration firm, U3 Ventures, will speak at the Lexington Public Library Theater, free of charge, as a part of the 2011 Lafayette Seminar on Public Issues presented by the Gaines Center. He will be discussing how he and his company feel students, from universities like UK, can shape cities like Lexington.

Lisa Broome-Price, acting director of the Gaines Center, was originally drawn to Blaik’s work by the University and Neighborhood Advisory Council, when a member recommended the book, “The University and Urban Revival: Out of the Ivory Tower and Into the Streets,” by Judith Rodin.

The book details Blaik’s work strengthening relationships between the University of Pennsylvania and the surrounding Philadelphia area.

“The Gaines Center has a long history of being interested with ‘town and gown’ relationships to make the quality of life and work the best it can be (in Lexington),” Broome-Price said.

It is a colloquial term – “town” referring to the non-academic community, “gown” encompassing the academic community.

The council has representatives from UK and the neighborhoods that border campus. They will be well represented at the discussion and that is why Broome-Price said she feels that students, as a vital aspect of the “town and gown” relationship, should attend the talk tonight and the panel discussion next Wednesday as well.

“I think that students voices are very important to this conversation,” Broome-Price said.

“It’s important for them to come to both (events)… we need to hear from students about what they are interested in learning and what types of engagements they are interested participating in. I think it would be one-sided if students did not attend.”