Center for Local Governments
Center for Local Governments: Connecting, Collaborating and Creating Solutions
The Center for Local Governments has been formally in existence since 1988, and is now housed within the Department of Political Science. Our motto is “connecting, collaborating, and creating solutions” for local governments in Kentucky.
The goals of the Center are:
1) to provide a mutually beneficial relationship of applied research and practical assistance to meet the needs of local governments with the expertise of WKU faculty;
2) to provide an opportunity for students to gain experience from working directly with local public officials;
3) to provide for better mutual understanding of the needs of both the University and local governments through collaborative efforts toward the pursuit of efficiency in service provision to citizens.
Benefits of partnering between the Center and local governments include:
1) a first point of contact to coordinate local governments and university resources;
2) practical research opportunities for WKU faculty in a variety of disciplines;
3) expert assistance for community leaders with activities including training and development, strategic planning, grantwriting assistance, and analysis;
4) network for the provision of qualified students from a variety of academic disciplines to assist city/county governments through internships.
The outreach activities are important because they provide the opportunity to:
1) increase visibility of the University, the department, the MPA program, and the Center for Local Governments;
2) give students exposure to the political process and to working on practical/applied research projects, which also makes them more marketable for internships and employment by these same organizations;
3) keep a finger on the pulse of what is really going on in local government, which serves to enrich applied research agendas of faculty and inform faculty teaching;
4) most importantly, serve the constituents—the citizens of Kentucky—and contribute to the growth and economic development of Kentucky.
The plan for the Center for Local Governments includes the following activities that are in line with the aforementioned goals:
Identify, initiate and deliver professional development training and workshop opportunities of interest to our regional partners and schedule and organize these sessions. These might include:
Grants, grant writing, grant administration, grant reviewing
Workforce development training—essential soft skills for public administrators, customer service, conflict management, leadership
Human Resource Management Assistance—salary studies, job description updates
Survey construction and administration—citizen perceptions
The potential outcomes that our activities will lead us to are:
Facilitate democratic process and promote civic engagement and citizen participation in local government. Connect citizens to their governments and encourage diverse stakeholders to voice their concerns.
Identify and advise on community issues—help local governments to find ways to take action or advocate for informed policy choices to resolve issues. Help communities to leverage resources to address community issues. Through better communication and better trust, explore shared service opportunities.
Identify multiple constituencies who have differing understandings of community and regional issues. Garner political support to encourage collaboration rather than competition among local governments and nonprofits. Establish a forum for collaboration and intergovernmental cooperation that leads to regional problem solving.
We will connect, collaborate and create solutions.
Dr. Victoria Gordon is a professor in the Political Science Department and serves as director of the Center for Local Governments at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Gordon received her Doctor of Public Administration degree in 2004 from the University of Illinois- Springfield. Her research interests include regional economic development and human resource management.