BGSU, Bowling Green ‘Not in Our Town’ earns national award

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Making life better for everyone — no matter their religion, race, national origin or sexual orientation — is the goal of the Not in Our Town (NIOT) movement, a national grassroots effort that has inspired hundreds of communities to take action against hate. Bowling Green State University and the city of Bowling Green joined NIOT in 2013 after racially charged actions shook the community. Since then they have partnered to affirm their mutual commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion. 

Now NIOT Bowling Green has been honored with an ImpACT Award in the Quality of Life category at the national conference of the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA) and Brailsford & Dunlavy (B&D), “Putting Practice into Action for the Betterment of Communities.” Attending the awards ceremony at Loyola University of Chicago were Leslie Galán, from BGSU (on behalf of Vicki Kulicke, Office of Equity and Diversity), and Heather Sayler, from the city of Bowling Green.

“We’re proud to be part of making our campus and our community more welcoming, inclusive and supportive environments for all citizens,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “Our students, faculty and staff have worked with the city community in inspiring and creative ways to show we stand together against hate and discrimination.” 

ITGA and B&D have partnered for the past three years to survey communities, colleges and universities across the country about their town-gown relationships. ImpACT Award winners were chosen from the 2015 group of survey respondents.

According to the awards website, “The winners were selected based on the magnitude of the challenges faced, the level of collaboration between the institution and the municipality, the creativity or innovation in implementing the project or program, the data supporting measurable impacts of the project or program to the benefit of both the institution and the municipality, and the transferability of the project or program to other campus communities.”

For BGSU, participation in NIOT has spawned a variety of community-based partnerships and activities to raise awareness and promote dialogue. In 2014, the University was featured in a documentary examining the decision to join the NIOT movement, “Not in Our Town: A Bowling Green Legacy,” that followed the actions of students working with administrators, law enforcement and community members to forge new bonds.

This year’s other ImpACT Award winners were the city of Pittsburg, Kan., and Pittsburg State University in the Campus and Community Planning category, and Cornell Agricultural and Food Technology Park, Geneva, N.Y., in the Economic Development category.

ITGA is a membership-based organization that provides a network of resources to facilitate collaboration between colleges and universities and their surrounding communities. B&D is a national program-management firm dedicated to serving public agencies, educational institutions, professional sports organizations and nonprofit clients.