Hennepin-University Partnership Spring 2013 Newsletter

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Spring 2013



Hennepin-University Partnership
301 19th Ave. S.
330 H. H. Humphrey Center
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Fax 612-626-0273

Kathie Doty
Program Director

Brittany Kellerman
Graduate Assistant


Hennepin County

Commissioner Jan Callison, 6th District

David Hough, County Administrator

Lois Langer Thompson, Director of Hennepin County Library

Sherrie Simpson, Director of Research, Planning & Development

University of Minnesota

Ed Goetz, Director of the Center for Urban & Regional Affairs

Tom Fisher, Dean of the College of Design

Mary Story, Associate Dean for Student Life in the School of Public Health

Laura Bloomberg, Interim Associate Dean of the Humphrey School

Cathy Jordan, Executive Director of the Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Tom Scott, Director Emeritus of the Center for Urban & Regional Affairs

From the Office of Commissioner Jan Callison

Jan Callison

The Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) is supported by the Hennepin County Board and the University of Minnesota. On behalf of the County Board, I serve as the Board lead, responsible for providing guidance and monitoring the progress of this important  initiative. This update is intended to communicate within Hennepin County government and the University of Minnesota about HUP activities and outcomes. For additional information, please contact  Kathie Doty at kdoty@umn.edu or me at jan.callison@co.hennepin.mn.us.

  - Jan Callison

Overview of Collaborations between Hennepin County and the University of Minnesota

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The HUP office compiled a report entitled “Overview of Collaborations between Hennepin County and the University of Minnesota” which displays the main trends of collaborations that have occurred between Hennepin and the University from May 2011 - December 2012. The report contains a summary of findings both from electronic surveys that were sent out to Hennepin County staff and University faculty and staff as well as collaborations recorded prior to surveys.

Electronic surveys were sent out to Hennepin County staff and the corresponding University faculty and staff.  37 surveys were received representing details of 22 recent collaborative projects. Coupled with the projects recorded by the HUP staff, there were a total of 44 projects reported during that time frame.

The charts above and below highlight some of the salient findings of the report. To view the full report, click here.

Exhibit 3Exhibit 4

Hennepin-University Collaborative Grant Update

In August 2012, the project entitled “The Risk of Family Homelessness over the Recession: The Role of Earnings History” was selected by the H-UP Management Team as the recipient of the 2012 Hennepin-University Collaborative Grant (HUCG). Lisa Thornquist, Program Analysis Supervisor, Housing and Homelessness Initiatives and the Office to End Homelessness and Maria Hanratty, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, submitted a joint application proposing to assess the impact of the recent recession on shelter entry of families on food support in Hennepin County.

To date, they have made significant progress towards their goals. First, they purchased the data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on the earning records of families who entered either Food Support of public shelters in Hennepin County in 2004-2011.  Additionally, they hired a graduate student from the Applied Economics Program at the University of Minnesota to help with assembling the data and completing the analysis. This data will be used to assess earnings trajectories of families before and after entering shelters. They anticipate having a preliminary report ready by May 2013.

Click here to link to the top of page.

Fall Campus Tour

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Lunch at the Weisman Museum with a presentation from Jean King from the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute

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On September 28, 2012, HUP hosted a Fall Campus Tour of the University Of Minnesota. The tour was an opportunity for Hennepin County staff to get an overview of programs and faculty at the University and encourage meaningful collaborations. 

The tour began at the Carlson School of Management where the Associate Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), the Director of Career Services for the Humphrey School, and the Executive Director of the Center for Integrative Leadership welcomed HC staff and provided an overview of their respective programs. The day was jammed packed with presentations from faculty and staff from various University departments. Some highlights from the day include:

  • At the Institute of Child Development we heard from Professor Sera who is conducting research on the relationship between language and cognitive development. We also took a brief tour of the Shirley G. Moore Lab School.
  • We heard from the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach and a Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Sustainable Building Research who presented on design thinking and work of the College of Design (photo above).
  • We heard two student groups, In the Mix and Students for Design Activism regarding the role of their student groups.
  • Finally, we concluded the tour at the Weisman Museum for a lunch presentation with Jean King from the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute (photo above). 

HUP offers a tour on an annual basis. The next tour will likely be held in Fall 2013.

Click here to link to top of the page.

Current Collaborations

Environmental Services Department and the Office of Student Affairs

The Hennepin County Environmental Services Department and the University of Minnesota’s Office of Student Affairs, Office of Government and Community Relations, and the ReUse Program Warehouse are in the planning stage for a campaign to reduce tenant-generated waste stream in the campus-area neighborhoods at peak move-in and move-out times at end of spring and beginning of fall semesters. The City of Minneapolis and the University District Alliance have also joined the conversation.

Human Services and Public Health Department and the School of Public Health

 Human Services and Public Health Department (HSPHD) is collaborating with Jamie Stang, Associate Professor, and Chrisa Arcan, Research Associate, from the School of Public Health to conduct research around  the most effective use of the $1.2 million that is allocated annually to food shelves and food banks. The researchers will be conducting interviews, holding focus groups, and preparing a report. The report is expected to be completed late summer.

Taxpayer Services Department and Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Taxpayer Services Department is working with Ryan Allan, Assistant Professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, around Hennepin County’s Tax Forfeited Land Program.  Allan will assist in conducting a programmatic review of the program, including evaluating existing processes and data. Additionally, Allan will conduct a policy review of the State of Minnesota’s delinquent tax enforcement and tax forfeiture process. Finally, as a result of this work, Allan will create a set of policy recommendations for Hennepin County around processing tax-forfeited land. Allan will begin the work this spring.

University of Minnesota Faculty Spotlight

Virajita Singh

Virajita Singh is a Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Design. She leads Design Thinking @ College of Design, an initiative to apply design thinking in teaching, research, and outreach to many sectors including higher education, health care and others with a special focus on non-profit sectors and local governments. In spring 2012, Virajita worked with the Hennepin County/City of Minneapolis Office to End Homelessness on applying design thinking to the redesign of the homeless single adult emergency shelter delivery system and involved staff, community stakeholders and shelter guests in the process.  In 2010, Virajita worked with Hennepin County Property Services and other stakeholders on applying design thinking to the interactive waiting spaces in the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice Center.

Virajita's work also includes leading the Design for Community Resilience (DCR) program at the Center for Sustainable Building Research that provides design assistance to community and local governmental clients while engaging students in the College of Design. DCR worked with Hennepin County Environmental Services for the research and envisioning design ideas around water efficiency, green roofs, sustainable materials and messaging for Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) in 2008.  For more information on the above projects or to collaborate with Virajita, please her contact at: singh023@umn.edu


Environmental Services Summer Capstone Results

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A Hennepin County Environmental Services capstone proposal was selected for a project titled "Strategies for Increasing Commercial Recycling and Organics Diversion". The project took place during summer 2012. Students from the Humphrey School evaluated the impact and effectiveness of incentive-based strategies to stimulate commercial recycling/organics participation in Hennepin County. The three incentives under study were business technical assistance, targeted programs for food rich locations, and “starter” grant programs. In early August, the project team reported out their findings and recommendations on which strategies to pursue to Environmental Services. Their recommendations included:

1. Engage commercial recycling participants and players

o    Identify target participants

o    Develop outreach strategies

o    Incentivize participants

o    Convene players quarterly

o    Use certification and recognition programs

o    Support recycling infrastructure and tend to the whole loop

2. Focus resources on and implement the three strategies

o    Provide multifaceted business technical assistance

o    Develop the organics program

o    Offer grants and incentives

o    Use strategies in combination

3. Continue research and development

o    Measure and report on outcomes

o    Undertake additional research and planning

For more information on the results click here.

Interested in being part of a capstone project? Contact your Cohort member or the HUP office for more information. Click here to link to top of the page.

New HUP Staff


Vanee Dusoruth joined the HUP team in September 2012. Vanee is a Master’s in Public Policy candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, focusing on labor policy, social policy, and foreign affairs. The HUP is happy to have Vanee as part of the team! Vanee can be reached at dusor001@umn.edu or 612-625-9885.

Cohort Update

New Cohort Members

The Hennepin County Cohort has three new members. The new members include:

  • Charlene Hatcher, County Attorney's Office
  • Paul Kroening, Environmental Services
  • Michele McGraw, Library

Not sure who your department cohort member is? Click here for a complete list.


Cohort Member Reports

Cohort member, Amy Luedtke, reported out to the rest of the group in October about the outcomes of one of the collaborations occurring in her department. Hennepin County Library (HCL) collaborated with students in a “WRIT 4501: Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication” service-learning course taught by Professor Lee-Ann Breuch. The service learning program at the University of Minnesota focuses on getting students involved in the local community through volunteering, service-learning classes, and other unique opportunities.

The course involved usability tests of web sites.  Students in the course worked in teams to design a usability test for the HCL’s web site.  Student teams designed the test based on questions that HCL had about the site, recruited individuals to participate in the usability test, conducted the test in the UMN usability lab, gathered data, and finally reported and presented their key findings and recommendations to the Hennepin Couty staff.

The testing has helped HCL articulate and focus on best practices for web site usability. These best practices inform the HCL’s current, daily work and future projects.

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