New director links University with community

Max Rust

There’s a new University kid on the many blocks surrounding the Twin Cities campuses.
Jan Morlock began working Friday as the University’s new director of community relations.
As director, Morlock will act as a liaison between myriad governmental agencies, community groups, interest groups and University departments.
Morlock identified three main aspects of her job:
ù to create an environment in which the community sees the University as an asset,
ù to identify how the University manages its assets in a way that adds value to the community, and
ù to figure out how the University can learn from long-term partnerships with communities.
Morlock will gather area residents’ thoughts about University plans and relay her findings to University officials. Gathering neighborhoods’ perspectives for future developments brings much-needed input to the planning process, she said.
“With the stroke of a pen, an institution can enhance or endanger the quality of life in a community and sometimes without even knowing it,” Morlock said. “Part of my job is to try to communicate what that impact can be.”
Morlock received her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and went onto graduate school in Indiana.
Before finishing her master’s degree, Morlock took a Twin Cities job with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1978. Morlock has been in the metro area since, working with the Housing and Urban Development department, the state of Minnesota and some nonprofit organizations, including Women Ventures, a company that helps women start their own businesses.
For the past two years, Morlock has worked at Yale University in an urban revitalization fellowship program.
Morlock replaces Ann O’Loughlin, who died in July from ovarian cancer.
A 13-member search committee comprised of people from several University departments and the metro area began looking for a replacement for O’Loughlin several months ago. From a pool of 126 applicants, the committee narrowed the list first to seven candidates and then three.
Harvey Turner, the University’s director of planning and programming, chaired the committee.
He said the University looked for someone with integrity, honesty, listening ability, objectivity and communication skills.
Turner said that from a planning perspective, the University greatly values what surrounding communities have to say.
“We need that external input to give even better definition to what it is we think we want to do,” Turner said.
Minneapolis Planning Director Chuck Ballentine, who was also on the search committee, said Morlock was a good choice for the University. The city will work with Morlock on planning campus developments, like a West Bank arts area to feature a new studio arts building near the Barbara Barker Center for Dance.
“Jan is one indication of an administration that wants the University to be an interactive institution and not just a stand-alone campus that’s in it’s own world,” Ballentine said.

Max Rust covers the community and welcomes comments at [email protected]