Washington University creates faculty group to spur thinking, dialogue around Better Together

St. Louis ArchThe St. Louis region currently is engaged in a discussion about the Better Together initiative, which would put to the voters a petition to merge St. Louis County and St. Louis City. In his personal capacity, Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton is chairing the Better Together effort.

As an institution, the university has not taken a position on Better Together. However, there are ways in which the university can deepen the regional conversation around the proposal. To that end, Chancellor-elect Andrew D. Martin has asked Provost Holden Thorp to chair a faculty group to consider the proposal from various perspectives and areas of expertise and to offer opportunities for the campus community to engage in dialogue.

“One of the key roles of a university is to engage in scholarly conversations about matters of community significance,” Thorp said. “The Better Together proposal is a perfect example of how Washington University can play a meaningful convening role. With our exceptional faculty expertise, we aim to serve as a neutral entity to host a conversation about the future of the region.”

The university sits within four jurisdictions that would be affected by the proposal and has leading expertise in areas such as racial and economic equity, education and health care that are relevant to the articulated goals of Better Together. In that way, the university is uniquely positioned to contribute to the regional conversation.

Faculty engaged in this work are:

  • Andrew Butler, associate professor of education;
  • Adrienne Davis, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law;
  • Steven Fazzari, the Bert A. and Jeannette L. Lynch Distinguished Professor of Economics;
  • Timothy McBride, the Bernard Becker Professor of Public Health;
  • Jason Purnell, associate professor of public health; and
  • Karen Tokarz, the Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law & Public Service.

The group currently is formulating a plan for its work. More information will follow by the fall 2019 semester.

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