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.
Validation of Bicycle Counts
A 2014 Humphrey School Capstone class prepared an automated bike monitoring plan for Hennepin County Public Works. This plan guided the county’s efforts to monitor bicycle traffic volumes at 60 locations. A subsequent capstone course partnered with a county engineer to explore the use of pneumatic tube counters to measure the volume of bike and motorist mixed traffic. This work was presented at a 2015 Transportation Research Board meeting, and will be published in the Transportation Research Record.
In summer 2017, a third capstone partnered with the county’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator to create a methodology for prioritizing the development of protected bike lanes. County staff will be able to use this study to inform future planning decisions as the county expands its bicycle network.
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.”
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?"
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.