University of Minnesota


Hennepin County Government Center against a blue sky

The Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) represents a strategic alignment between Minnesota's primary research university and its largest county, coordinating partnerships that capture value for both organizations.

Lisa Thornquist Receives U Award

Lisa Thornquist from Hennepin County's Office to End Homelessness has received the University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award, the highest honor the University gives to a community member. The award "recognizes the significant contributions Lisa has made to the community, including building University-community partnerships and programs that benefit university students, faculty, staff, community partners, and citizens across the state.”

2016 HUP Annual Report

Grand Challenges Networking Event

The University recently announced a Grand Challenges competitive awards process for interdisciplinary teams from the University for research endeavors focusing on two of the identified Grand Challenges, Fostering Just and Equitable Communities, and Assuring Clean Water and Sustainable Ecosystems.

With the understanding that some award proposals will involve collaboration with community partners, HUP convened a networking event on Friday, March 3 to support potential connections between University researchers and Hennepin County staff around Grand Challenges proposals. The event included County staff experts who talked about the work they do in the context of the University’s identified Grand Challenges.

The event resulted in multiple Grand Challenge Award proposals as well as additional connections. Several Hennepin County staff were asked to be community partners on faculty research projects.

Hennepin County's Community of Scholars

The University’s Community of Scholars Program (COSP) supports the professional success of graduate and PhD students from diverse backgrounds. Inspired by a connection made at the Fall 2015 HUP Mixer, the COSP and the County’s Human Resources Department created a summer internship program in early 2016. Three COSP students were hired to work on projects that included analyzing and recommending improvements to the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) application process and a demographic analysis for the County’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Transit Accessibility Assessment Tool

Andrew Owen, director of the University of Minnesota's Accessibility Observatory, presented the findings from his recent report "Access Across America: Transit 2015" to the HUP Management Team in January 2017. Owen and county leadership are now discussing ways to apply Owen's methodology to areas in which the county has specific interests, such as workforce development.

Students Volunteer to Count Ballots

HUP helped recruit nearly 400 University of Minnesota student volunteers to help Hennepin County process an estimated 120,000 absentee ballots during the week leading up to election day.

Students praised the experience and expressed admiration for Hennepin County. One student was "astonished by the care the County pursued in the counting process", while another thought it was "cool to see how such a massive organization came together for the community". Echoing the sentiments of many, one student said county employees "were genuine and cared deeply about the citizens".

2016 HUP Mixer

On September 16, HUP hosted a Mixer to connect County staff and University faculty around the theme: "what does the future of engagement look like for those managing county buildings?"

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An Award Winning Program

As part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award, the Hennepin-University Partnership created a video about just some of the many successful collaborations the HUP has made with Hennepin County. The video was shown at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Annual Conference, was part of the review process for the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, and was shown at the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting.

“The Hennepin-University Partnership is worthy of recognition because this innovation in connecting local government and academia creates a model that can be employed by other jurisdictions across the country.  The HUP not only facilitates effective public policy making, but has also been highly productive to date. With more than 144 connections initiated under the umbrella of the Partnership, the value to the larger community is evident and the HUP will continue to be an invaluable resource for both institutions,” said Jan Callison, Hennepin County commissioner.

Read more about the award.

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