[Editors Note: The following article was published exclusively in the Monmouth College Courier on September 24th. In the article, the President of Monmouth College, Mauri Ditzler, foresees a new and “dynamic interaction” between the city of Monmouth and Monmouth College. The Warren County Newswire will be following important developments in this process with a series of special reports over the next weeks and months.]
Town/Gown Poll Results
By Adam Kinigson
From April 7-8 2010, Monmouth College conducted aN unprecedented citywide survey in which 300 Monmouth citizens were polled in order to get a better understanding of the town’s attitude toward the college.
“Part of ensuring you have a good relationship with your neighbor is to find out what they think about you,” said President Mauri Ditzler. “The first couple of questions asked whether or not the public thought the college was on the upswing or going downhill.”
According to the poll, 84.7 percent of the people surveyed believe the college is improving, while only one percent felt it was declining. Also, 79.7 percent of the people believe the college is an important asset to the community.
On top of generating income for the town, the college has also helped create new jobs. In fact, according to the poll, from 1993 to 2004 the college added 487 new students which created 76 new jobs.
“You can imagine people saying that as the college gets larger, the more problems arise,” said Ditzler. “It’s a great endorsement of our students that we increased in size and people still remain positive.”
However, not everyone is in favor of the college expanding. According to the survey, in order to expand its student population, Monmouth College would have to purchase additional land within Monmouth city limits in order to build additional student housing. Since Monmouth College is a non-profit organization it does not pay property taxes, which means expansion would take properties off the tax rolls.
46.7 percent felt that this was the biggest disadvantage the college had on the community.
“Every time the college buys a house people will say, ‘there goes another 5,000 dollars in property tax,’ but we say that the town is growing and the money goes back into the college,” said Ditzler. “The school is one of the town’s greatest employers. People like the idea of more jobs.”
A combined 44.7 percent of the people believe that the greatest impact Monmouth College provides the citizens is the overall economic impact on the town and the 250 full time and part-time jobs the college supplies.
“I hope that over the next 10 years there will be a dynamic interaction between the town and college,” said Ditzler. “It’s not about competing with the town, but rather working together with it. You can’t make improvements if you don’t know what to fix.”
Thanks to the poll, the college now has a better understanding of the town’s outlook toward it and how relations between the two can improve for the future.
“I’d like people in Monmouth to say this is a great place to live and Monmouth College contributes to that,” said Ditzler. “I also want people to say that the college is great school to attend because it’s in a great town.”