About the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship and the 2012 Conference on Distressed Cities

The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Fund is an endowment gift from the Strickler Family of Harrisonburg, VA to honor Mr. Minnis Ridenour’s service to Virginia Tech and the State of Virginia and to foster the creative advancement of faculty in the School of Public and International Affairs. This year, SPIA will host a two day conference, the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference, focused on Distressed Cities. In keeping with the goals of the Fellowship Fund, the organizing principle of the conference is the broad interdisciplinary exploration of the concept of distressed cities, and the implications for policy and practice. This effort has two goals.

First, we hope to utilize the conference as an opportunity to explore the intellectual synergies and creative possibilities of the School. While individual faculty have specific areas of research and scholarly expertise, and take on key pedagogical, research, and outreach roles in their respective programs, our engagement as a faculty across the School provides another source of intellectual challenge and exploration. The conference will feature several facilitated round table discussions with faculty from different programs and disciplines to examine conceptual and practical elements of resilience, equity, and dimensions of distress, among other topics.

Second, in addition to three invited guest speakers, we hope for broad faculty engagement in framing the discussions, participating in the round tables, participating in the Master Class presentations of selected graduate students, and advancing our knowledge and insights on distressed cities through the concluding discussions.

The two day event will have a featured round table each day with invited speakers. On April 12, 2012, Professor Ken Reardon from University of Memphis, and Valerie Lemmie, former city manager of Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio, will discuss Public Participation and Distress. The conversation will be facilitated by Professor Joe Rees of the Center for Public Administration and Policy. Professor Robert Beauregard from Columbia University will discuss dimensions of distress in a conversation facilitated with Dr. Joe Schilling with Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute. On April 13, 2012, Professor Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, will discuss the Arts and Economic Uplift from a critical perspective, and Professor Sonia Hirt from Urban Affairs and Planning will facilitate the discussion.

The conference will close with a discussion among the faculty panel facilitators and conference participants to highlight the findings, synergies, and possibilities identified in the conference. This discussion will form the basis of an edited volume featuring the work of SPIA faculty aimed at advancing a more robust and intellectually cutting edge understanding of cities in distress and transition.

This web site will provide information leading into the April event, and will then feature recordings of the events, findings, questions, and action items. We hope to draw faculty and students from SPIA and across the University, city and town managers and leaders from across the Commonwealth of Virginia, and interested members of the public in the Blacksburg area. SPIA strives to inte­grate scholarship and practice to continuously inform, question, and advance knowledge in the public sphere.

We hope you will join us for this event!


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