UKTGA Virtual Conference

Manchester Student Homes and the UKTGA continues to pave the way for collaborative work on town gown relations, across the globe.

On Wednesday 20th May, the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA) hosted a virtual discussion to bring together those that work and are interested in off campus student affairs, to consider the current challenges and identify potential solutions aligned to managing town gown relations during the current CV-19 period.

Manchester Student Homes’ Manager, and Chair of the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA) decided to use our ever-expanding global network of Higher Education professionals, private accommodation providers and members of Local Authorities to host a UKTGA online Virtual Conference.  We were delighted to welcome representatives that included University officers, Council and Police representatives, some real life students, academics, Private hall providers and wider sector bodies including representatives from the International Town and Gown Association, ASRA, as well as members of the Nordic Student Housing Organisation.

On the day we welcomed over 60 colleagues from the UK, Northern Ireland, America, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to spend two hours discussing the issues in which many University Cities and Towns are facing currently, will be sure to face in coming months, and the further implications that CV19 will have going forward.

Our pre-conference survey allowed us to pinpoint key areas in which our attendees wanted to focus on to share knowledge, experiences and best practices in their current environment. We also carried out a number of polls during the event to consider how well localised ‘town gown’ partnership were working together to respond to all the challenges.

Cooper Healey, Manager of Manchester Student homes and Chair if the UKTGA commented ‘The virtual forum offered the opportunity for colleagues to come together and collaborate, share experiences and new ideas. We received a huge amount of positive feedback from the discussions and colleagues utilising this network as a source of support during these uncertain times’

Poppy Humphrey, Off Campus Student Affairs Officer at Manchester Student Homes and who sits on the UKTGA Steering Group further added ‘It was encouraging to see that many of our current and anticipated challenges are being felt up and down the country, as well as in other countries. This is a comfort during such unprecedented times, as it means that via the UKTGA we have a network that we can share new and revised ways of working to help support all those that live in off campus communities.

ITGA 2020: A conference during crisis, a timely success

This article was originally written by Gary Stewart for University Business Magazine.


This year’s International Town & Gown Association (ITGA) conference took place virtually, yet tackled the big issues face-on.

If someone had predicted a few months ago that dozens of ITGA member communities and campuses would be shuttered by a global pandemic, followed by a high-profile race-related death that created more stress and uncertainty, few would have believed it. Below the storms and small in comparison, but essential for ITGA, was the fate of our long-planned June conference, set for Boulder, Colorado. At that point, no one could have envisioned a cutting-edge virtual conference that showcased the best of ITGA at so many levels, from Covid-19 to race relations 2020 and key topics in between. This was ‘ITGA Resiliency Illustrated,’ and I’ll be forever grateful.” International Town & Gown Association (ITGA) Executive Director Beth Bagwell


International Town & Gown Association (ITGA)‘s landmark conference featured a menu of responsive programmes touching on current events and steady challenges, including student behavioural issues and neighbourhood relations. Representatives from the UK Town-Gown Association – whose members range from a Canterbury church to the South Wales police and other stakeholders – were also in attendance.

A myriad of excellent sessions touched on economic recovery, off-campus life, and crisis communications. The latter sector included a student-led session on the many issues Covid-19 brought to a rural community of 5,500 people, on the east coast of Canada.

Conference lead presentations were just as stellar, including:

  • The renowned University of Washington professor Dr. Jason Kilmer who has served as lead investigator on several prominent studies on college-age alcohol and drug use. His presentation, ‘But we’re still dealing with alcohol! The Importance of Town-Gown Partnerships in Best Practices in Preventing High-Risk Alcohol Use and Responding to Cannabis in a Changing Legal Climate’, was powerful, entertaining and very well-received.
  • A report-out on ITGA-convened focus groups on how Covid-19 is affecting town-gown environments and relations. Research participants, all ITGA members, represented a diverse array of higher education institutions and communities.  This presentation shared key themes including top concerns for fall openings, and creative ideas for town-gown relations in the wake of the current crisis.
  • A panel presentation on the need for “courageous conversation” on racial tensions, “in order to bring understanding, peace and healing to our current reality of despair, division and racial tensions that have led to widespread global protests.”

Students played an important role throughout the conference, too, including a session titled ‘Poppy’s Wild Week’, led by Manchester Student Homes’ staff leaders Cooper Healey (also an ITGA Board member), and Poppy Humphrey. Manchester Student Homes is a service to provide off-campus and housing support to students, jointly funded by Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester.

The takeaway from this session? “We have daily interactions with students, but how much do we really understand about the student experience off-campus? It is imperative that town-gown partnership can continue to promote community cohesion within the diverse communities in which our students reside.”

“We are so grateful to our colleagues in the UK and Canada,” said ITGA executive director Beth Bagwell, who is based in South Carolina, USA. “They put the ‘I’ in ITGA, and our goal is for more nations to join our growing and increasingly vital organisation in the coming year.”

Gary Stewart is an associate vice president for community relations at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, a longstanding ITGA member.

PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations

35-Year Public Relations Professional Marc Whitt Authors Book Named to PRCA’s “Recommended Reading List”

Lexington, KY (May 27, 2020)PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional, a book that has already received rave editorial reviews by higher education and nonprofit officials from across the United States and United Kingdom, is set for release June 1, announced Adam Turner, president of Cherrymoon Media, a publisher based in Lexington, Ky. The book will be available in print and Kindle formats via Amazon Books.

The 272- page book, named by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to its "Recommended Reading List," is by first-time author, Marc C. Whitt, a 35-year veteran of higher education and nonprofit public relations. Whitt currently serves as director of media and strategic relations at the University of Kentucky Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications and is a part-time instructor at UK’s Department of Integrated Strategic Communication.  The foreword is written by nationally-respected higher education journalist, Melissa Ezarik, senior managing editor of University Business magazine.


Whitt, a resident of Richmond, Ky. and native of Paintsville, has written a book filled with strategies, tips and advice addressing pertinent topics for those in higher education or nonprofit public relations. More than 20 chapters cover topics such as program leadership and management, crisis communications, social media, earned media, storytelling, philanthropy and donor communications, town and gown relations, branding, event planning and much more.


Interspersed throughout the book are many of the career lessons Whitt said he has personally learned and experienced during his career. He has taken these experiences and insights and shares them with the reader in an open, honest, inspiring and insightful way, said Turner.


PR Lessons Learned Along the Way is written in a conversational tone,” Turner added. “That was intentional on Marc’s part and true to his personality and character.  He wants the young, mid-career or senior professional to feel as if they are sitting down with him over a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea talking shop as they learn from one another. Not only do I believe he has successfully captured this in the book, but so do many in the public relations profession who have reviewed it.”


Here is a sampling of what a few reviewers had to say:


"I have been looking forward to the day Marc Whitt would share his wisdom in a book. Marc has always been a leader in our field, no matter his institutional or professional association role. His casual writing style makes this book a real treat to read, and I suggest you keep it on your desk for quick reference." - Larry D. Lauer, Vice Chancellor Emeritus, Texas Christian University, and Author of Best-selling Advancing Higher Education in Uncertain Times

"Marc Whitt's book, PR Lessons Learned Along The Way, is truly remarkable -and I say that having reviewed many PR books in my time. The advice 'Maintain a good sense of humor. It will always see you through life's ups and downs' has surely never been more apt than today, with so much bad news around us. And yet the optimism that runs through this book is precisely what we need right now, and is also precisely true. Our profession's embrace of professionalism; of constant improvement; and of strategy make it -as Whitt argues- indispensable. PR is a conversation, not a lecture. And reading this book feels exactly that -one expert having a conversation with his readers, and imparting the knowledge of decades along the way." - Francis Ingham, MPRCA, Public Relations and Communications Association, Director General, London, England


"PR Lessons Learned Along The Way is a superb resource offering context and guiderails to manage nonprofit and higher education brands in a strategic and sustainable way. Marc reminds us of the inherent service orientation of our calling, the imperative of values such as leadership, integrity and urgency, the value of playing the long game, and the devil that resides in the detail of public relations work. Whether you are a communications rookie, a mid-career professional or a seasoned expert, you will come away from PR Lessons Along The Way feeling empowered and maybe even a little more in love with the craft than you were yesterday." - Morgan Roth, Senior Vice President, Communication & Marketing, The ALS Association, Washington, DC


"Marc Whitt's book is an indispensable guide for all of us currently in public relations and advancement, as well as for anyone seeking to enter the field. Marc applies his many years of experience to each topic he addresses, but his tone is never condescending or 'know-it-all' - instead, he offers pragmatic advice and solutions that will help everyone from the PR newbie to the seasoned veteran."- Jeffrey T. Spoeri, Associate Vice President for University Advancement, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas

"Have you ever found yourself nodding and saying, 'Yes, yes!' while reading a book? When a writer unveils morsels of wisdom that ring true, that's what happens. In PR Lessons Learned Along the Way, Marc Whitt becomes our mentor, an experienced friend willing to bare his heart and soul. Marc's observations are born out of being in the trenches, making mistakes and achieving monumental goals. As I read his words, it is as though we are sharing coffee and war stories, congratulating the other on a success or putting balm on a wound. Buy this book. Read it through. And when you need a pep talk or a reminder of why PR is the best profession in the world, pick it back up. You'll put it down smiling again." – Nancy Wiser, President, Wiser Strategies, APR, PRSA Fellow, Lexington, Kentucky
"If Dale Carnegie ever wanted to write a sequel to How to Win Friends and Influence PeoplePR Lessons Learned Along the Way would be it!" - Tom Hayes, Dean, Williams College of Business, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Author, Marketing Colleges and Universities, A Services Perspective (CASE Alice Beeman Award Winner)


 About the Author

Marc Whitt is Director of Media & Strategic Relations at the University of Kentucky's Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. He also serves as a part-time instructor in UK's Department of Integrated Strategic Communication and is a former PR and marketing columnist for the national trade magazine, University Business.  During his nearly 35 years in higher education, Marc's work has achieved measurable results garnering over 40 honors including back-to-back CASE Silver Medal Awards for Total Institutional Relations Program. In 2015, he received the James C. Bowling Excellence in Public Relations Award. Presented by the UK Journalism Alumni Association and UK Department of Integrated Strategic Communication, the award is given to the "outstanding public relations practitioner with ties to Kentucky." That same year, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Communication. In 2003, he was named an Honorary Alumnus of Campbellsville University.

Recently Onalytica, a firm that identifies social influencers, named him among the "Top 100 Public Relations Influencers on Twitter;" he was ranked 21st. Additionally, CASE Kentucky presented him with its Beth K. Fields Service Award for Leadership in Advancement.

In previous years, Marc has served on the Association of American Colleges & Universities Advisory Council on Communications and Public Affairs (two of his eight years as national chair), the CASE District III (Southeast US) Board of Directors and the International Town & Gown Association Board of Directors. He has consulted organisations such as the Christian Appalachian Project, The National Association of Music Parents, Witnessing History Education Foundation, among others.

Marc holds a Master of Arts Degree (1985) and Bachelor of Arts Degree (1982) from Eastern Kentucky University.

Marc and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Richmond, Kentucky, and are the parents of three children: Emily Fields (Mark); Elizabeth Muncie (Christian); and Jacob; and the grandparents of Annaleigh and Aubrey Fields.

 About Cherrymoon Media

Cherrymoon Media is a multimedia company based in central Kentucky, specializing in book publishing, music management, and web development services.

An Invite to our Virtual Conference!

Dear all

Firstly, I hope this email finds you safe and well.

As Chair of the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA), I am writing to let you know that myself and the UKTGA Steering Group have taken to decision to postpone our November 2020 Conference. This will now be held November 8th – 10th 2021 and will still be hosted at the University of Birmingham. Despite this being a difficult decision, we felt it was the right approach under the circumstances.

In the interim, we recognise the importance of continued collaboration. I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to invite you to participate in an online discussion to consider the current issues and challenges being faced during CV-19, as well as identifying opportunities for new ways of working that are emerging to manage town gown issues in this current environment.

The virtual forum will take place on Wednesday 20th May between 2-4pm GMT.

Here’s a short message from me, explaining in more detail:

 If you are interested in taking part, please email Poppy on by close of play Monday 11th May 2020.

We hope that you can join us.


Best wishes and stay safe


Cooper Healey


The Impact of COVID19 on University towns and cities

Our good friend and exceptional colleague Steven Gavazzi has wrote about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on American Colleges' cities and towns.


Until recently, college towns were thought to have a distinct economic advantage over municipalities that did not host an institution of higher learning. Colleges and universities were touted as “anchor institutions,” a term indicating their long-term investment in the communities they served. With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, these same towns now face very real economic peril. Students have been sent back to their homes to reduce the spread of the virus. Gone with them is the purchasing power they had poured into the local economy.

So far, significant government attention has been paid to the current fiscal difficulties faced by our nation’s colleges and universities. Most importantly, this includes $14 billion in aid from Congress to institutions of higher learning (half of which must be used for emergency student financial aid) embedded in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (an acronym that stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). While state and local governments also stand to benefit from CARES Act money through a $150 billion fund, there is nothing in the congressional action that addresses the specialized needs of college towns.

Chief among the unique aspects of the college town is the back and forth movement of students and how those population swings impact the local economy. When students arrive on campus in the fall, businesses thrive. Apartments are rented, back to school supplies are purchased, etc. Once students settle in, they frequent coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and various entertainment venues surrounding campus. Home football games and other large social events hosted by universities add to the mix. Food and beverages are bought in copious quantities by participants in the revelry. Hotel rooms fill, collegiate merchandise is snapped up, and gas tanks are filled, among other purchases made by these weekend visitors.

When the academic year is over in the spring, students graduate or go back to their hometowns for the summer. Sports seasons are completed, and other campus events wind down. Hence, the college town population contracts for several months, and the economy slows to a trickle of its former self. In a normal year, this downturn is relatively brief, and it can be anticipated by local businesses. Now, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy to an almost immediate and complete standstill, and many months earlier than had been anticipated.

Alarm bells are beginning to ring among various individuals and organizations familiar with the plight of college towns. For example, a recent webinar on this topic was organized by the International Town-Gown Association with the title “College Towns in Crisis.” Attended by campus and community representatives from across the country – including mayors, city managers, town council members, and university staff members – it proved to be an interesting conversation, to say the least.

UKTGA Conference Update

From us all here at UKTGA we hope that all our friends, followers and colleagues are keeping safe under the current effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It is under these circumstances that we have seen no other safe and logical decision other to postpone our UKTGA 2020 Conference until next year.

UKTGA 2021 will now take place November 8th – 10th 2021 and will still be held at the University of Birmingham.

We would like the thank the University of Birmingham for extending their hospitality until next year, where we will be back bigger and better than ever.

Your UKTGA Steering Group are busy working behind the scenes to consider new learning opportunities in these challenging times to support all our members. We will provide updates in due course.

In the meantime, please feel free to utilise our UKTGA Jisc network to meet likeminded individuals and share ideas and best practice on any issue relating to town gown relations. If you haven’t already signed up, please contact


With very best wishes,

The UK Town & Gown Association.

The NSBO Network

The Nordic Association for Student Housing was established in 1975 and is a co-operation between Nordic student housing companies. The main purpose of NSBO is sharing knowledge about student housing in the Nordic countries. It’s a meeting place for inspiration of planning, construction and maintenance of student housing and serving the students living in them. Members include Universities, University Students Unions and private providers.

The NSBO hosted a webinar on 3rd April, which brought together representatives from the UK, USA, Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland and Norway, to share knowledge and exchange best practice on the current CV-19 situation within the student housing context.

The webinar was an opportunity to share best global practices, horizon scanning and feeling connected amongst the Covid-19 outbreak before breaking into breakout sessions to discuss issues more intimately.

The NSBO network is open for anyone with an interest in student housing from a Nordic perspective. As part of the network you receive our newsletter twice a year, new reports and invitations to our events. The conferences and meeting places organized by NSBO creates personal contacts between colleagues from the different countries and companies. These contacts have often led to further meetings, study visits, new knowledge and experiences.

What was apparent from discussions, and the pre webinar survey completed, was that there were shared issues and concerns emanating from each of the different countries represented. These included vacancies, financial implications, practical ways to locate students to ensure ongoing support, and the rise in mental health related issues.

The UKTGA will continue to work with colleagues from the NSBO as well as other organisations, to ensure that we continue to provide you with up-to-date information within a national and global context on town gown relations.

The NSBO network is open for anyone with an interest in student housing from a Nordic perspective. As part of the network you receive our newsletter twice a year, new reports and invitations to our events. The conferences and meeting places organized by NSBO creates personal contacts between colleagues from the different countries and companies. These contacts have often led to further meetings, study visits, new knowledge and experiences.

Network benefits

  • Invitation to all their events
  • Contact access to student housing operators all over the Nordic countries
  • NSBO Newsletter (twice a year)
  • Reports and statistics


Join the NSBO network here:

Join the NBSO network by register your contact information below. If you have any questions, regarding the network or the Nordic student housing market, don’t hesitate to contact.


Town & Gown: Issues, Trends, Collaborations and Ideas for Today’s College Town

Enjoy and follow this Flipboard® online magazine, “Town & Gown: Issues, Trends, Collaborations and Ideas for Today’s College Town” – a roundup of news and information from across the US, UK and elsewhere that is for and about college towns (  This free resource is edited by Marc Whitt (, Director of Media & Strategic Relations at the University of Kentucky’s Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. Marc also serves as a part-time instructor in UK’s Department of Integrated Strategic Communication and is a former member of the International Town & Gown Association Board of Directors. His first book, PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional (Cherrymoon Media), is set for release in June 2020. Marc invites you to connect with him on Twitter (@marcwhitt) or LinkedIn (

Exeter's Glass Caddy Scheme

Exeter University's Student Community Wardens have been delivering the termly 'Glass Caddy Scheme' for over five years and, due to increasing demand, we are pleased that we are now trialling the scheme as a monthly service.

The Glass Caddy Scheme simply involves collecting glass from multiple student properties who do not have access to a vehicle, and delivering the glass to the closest bottle bank. This scheme was initially developed with our Students' Guild in response to the fact that Exeter does not provide doorstep glass collections. Glass was sometimes being placed in grey waste and many students without cars struggled to transport the glass to glass banks.

The service is strictly offered to students without access to a vehicle. They also use the scheme to highlight the benefits of not taking a car to the city.

Using one collection vehicle to collate multiple glass donations into one glass bank 'visit', also reduces Exeter's carbon footprint.

The surge in demand for the service has led to a monthly trial of the scheme.

We are pleased to see that this recycling trend also coincides with a significant spike in student donations of unwanted goods to charities like The British Heart Foundation for their 'Give It Don't Bin It' campaign. Increased awareness of the recycle/reuse message has been very positive and we hope to build on this success with other projects.

JAM at Queen’s awarded Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation funding to “unlock hidden talent"

Queen’s Junior Music Academy (JAM) has been successful in the latest round of funding by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, one of Britain’s leading charities supporting the arts and music.

The Foundation has awarded £14,760 to JAM at Queen’s to fund bursaries over the next three years for a new Strings programme. Additional funding has been provided by the Music for All programme to purchase new string instruments.

A total of £225,405 has been given to arts and heritage projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland and throughout England, aimed at breaking down barriers to participation in the arts. The Foundation has prioritised projects that engage young people and individuals from hard-to-reach and minority backgrounds.


The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation was set up by Lord Lloyd Webber in 1992 to promote the arts, culture and heritage for the public benefit; since inception Andrew has been the principal provider of funding for all its charitable activities.

Since 2011, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has given £20.5 million in grants and performing arts scholarships, positively affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and beyond. In 2018 alone, it provided financial backing and sustainability to 111 projects, totalling over £3.1 million.

To read the full article, click here.