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January 8, 2001

New OUCP site opens doors
to community

By Eric Rangus

Determined to expand its service database and website, the new Office of University-Community Partnerships sought last year to overhaul the whole thing.

When the renovation was over, the website that emerged turned out to be a thorough, yet easy-to-use tool for users to learn about—and, perhaps, eventually participate in—Emory’s community service projects.

Last spring, Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Rich, in his new role as OUCP director, met with representatives from the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs (GCA) and the Office of Institutional Planning and Research (IPR) as well as ITD in order to redesign the community partnerships website and database.

The database was originally created in 1997 so GCA could track Emory’s various volunteer and service projects. It wasn’t that the information the database contained was bad—there just wasn’t enough of it. Nor was there any sort of a context concerning why the database even existed.

“What we wanted to do was provide an umbrella over the database that would provide users both within Emory as well as outside Emory with some basic information on the university-community partnership initiative: some of the kinds of programs we had to offer, services, who we were, how to contact us and the like,” said Rich, who was named OUCP director in February 2000, one month after Provost Rebecca Chopp announced the office’s creation.

The result of the effort is an informative, easy-to-navigate and attractive (albeit text-heavy) site that offers a wealth of community-related work at Emory. A database search provides a list of programs relevant to the categories selected. Clicking on a project displays its title, description, a University contact, the school and any applicable telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

“The technical development and design for the OUCP web application took four months—beginning in June and completing in early October, when the new site went live,” said Linda Erhard of ITD’s administrative services unit. Erhard led the project and designed the site.

Where before there was just one entry point to the system—service projects—now there are six. Projects are grouped into service, teaching and research, and users are divided into faculty/staff, community and students. An extensive list of links has been added as well, not only to University organizations, such as Volunteer Emory, but also to community organizations outside Emory like Hands-On Atlanta.

Other additions include pages that list community-related job openings, announcements, upcoming events and an introduction to the Atlanta Outreach Consortium.

“We kept the functionality of the database, but we broadened it in terms of the depth of querying you could do,” Rich said. “Then we layered the content on top of that.”

As of Jan. 1, the site listed 489 projects in 36 issue areas, ranging from environmental justice to substance abuse to immigra nt communities, in the metro area. The most listings are in health care (76) and education (70), but that’s just because researchers and instructors in those areas have been the most responsive in telling OUCP what they are doing.

That, in fact, OUCP’s biggest challenge: simply finding out what’s happening on campus. “Right now, I don’t think there’s a lot more we want to add [to the site] other than more information about what folks are doing,” Rich said. “We’re going about that as gently and persistently as we can. The block is getting people to take 10 or 15 minutes to provide some information about their activities.”

Rich estimated there are more than 600 projects ongoing.

Contacting OUCP is simple. Project information can be e-mailed to or—the preferred manner—uploaded to the system via an electronic form located at
Project-0.cfm. OUCP staff will take it from there.

“While ITD maintains the technical infrastructure, the system is designed to enable the OUCP and its partners, GCA and IPR, to quickly and easily manage its content,” Erhard said.


Back to Emory Report Jan. 8, 2000