University of Pretoria
Applying lessons from U.S. institutions to a premier South African public research university.
Concerned about urban economic decay around South Africa’s University of Pretoria Hatfield campus, including declining infrastructure and increasing crime, the institution looked to the United States for innovative models of how anchor institutions can better connect to their neighborhoods. The University’s vice-chancellor and mayor of Tshwane visited Detroit and Philadelphia at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy to visit successful university districts. Subsequent to their visit, U3 Advisors was invited to conduct a weeklong, intensive feasibility study in the fall of 2015.
The U3 team led focus groups of leading administrators and academics, as well as students at the University of Pretoria. It engaged community and civic leaders, including a former executive mayor of Tshwane and the local authority’s city manager, foreign diplomatic missions in the area, local and national police, real estate developers and operators, representatives from local schools and the business community, and members of the City Improvement District (CID) in which the university was already playing a leading role. U3 Advisors produced a framework report identifying the university’s potential as an anchor institution and the steps that needed to be taken to implement an effective anchor strategy in Hatfield.
Although the University had successfully addressed many challenges through defensive measures, U3 advocated that a new intentional, proactive approach was required. Such clarity would enable the University’s leaders to articulate and promote the institution’s place-building plans and support the alignment of these activities with the interests of the local authority and other key stakeholders as part of a long-term holistic strategy. Following the weeklong “U3 Lab” visit, U3 continued to act as a sounding board for various initiatives. Jaime Flaherty, Managing Director at U3, returned to South Africa the following year to speak at a national convening of higher education leaders regarding the Pretoria framework and U.S. best practices. U3 continues to follow the successes of the Hatfield CID and University of Pretoria built environment initiatives.