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Center for Community Partnerships: Ira Harkavy
October 2, 2007, Volume 54, No. 6

Please note the article below appeared in Almanac, July 14, 1992. Click here to download the issue as a PDF.

Dr. Ira Harkavy, vice dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and director of the nationally-recognized WEPIC  (West Philadelphia Improvement Corps), has been chosen to head a new Center for Community Partnerships at Penn. 

The new center was proposed by President Sheldon Hackney during Penn’s 250th Anniversary as “a permanent anchor for University-based research and service.”

As the Center’s head, Dr. Harkavy will coordinate programs that link some 4000 Penn faculty, staff and students in Philadelphia community efforts. The University currently supports over 150 programs with and for the local community, ranging from tutoring children to advising small businesses and from programs on hunger and homelessness to “greening” projects.   Dr. Harkavy will create and maintain an inventory of all campus public service programs; oversee the matching of volunteer interests with community needs; maintain relations with appropriate community, state and federal agencies; and take primary responsibility for fund-raising to support the Center and establish an endowment for public service.

When a new community relations director is named, that director will report to Dr. Harkavy. The post formerly held by Cheryl Hopkins now has an acting director, Steve Carey.

Dr. Harkavy graduated from Penn in 1970, cum laude with distinction in history, and took his Ph.D. here in history in 1979. Since 1984 he has taught in history and urban studies, and served as director of the Penn Program for Public Service and as executive director of the Program for Assessing and Revitalizing the Social Sciences  (PARSS).

“I can’t think of a better choice to head this Center,” said SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens.  

“Ira Harkavy is nationally recognized for his work linking academia and the community and maximizing the benefits to both.” The premise of this linkage was central to Dr. Hackney’s opening address for the 250th, where he cited three basic components of a university’s mission: education, research and service. “Nothing could be more traditional at Penn than civic action. 

We have long been guided by the words of our founder, Benjamin Franklin, who wrote that ‘the great aim and end of all education’ should be to enable one to serve humanity.”

Almanac - October 2, 2007, Volume 54, No. 6