Editors’ note: This article is from Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine’s summer 2023 issue, “Movement Economies: Making Our Vision a Collective Reality.”
At the height of the pandemic, I was swept up in a titanic battle being waged over the right to a city. 1 That city was New Haven, Connecticut. I found myself in the middle of a David and Goliath struggle between the citizens of the town and its biggest economic powerhouse: Yale University. At the center of the story remains a pivotal question, with implications that reach far beyond New Haven: Who actually benefits from the land controlled by wealthy nonprofits?
There was no better example of the costs of wealthy nonprofit land control than Yale University’s dominance over New Haven. And the city’s residents were starting to push back. 2020 found New Haven residents, organized by the coalition New Haven Rising, storming the city’s March 30th Zoom budget meeting to express their disgust at Yale University’s continued strain on the city’s finances. In a campaign that was ultimately called “Yale: Pay Your Fair Share,” many pointed to the university’s vast, tax-exempt property holdings as one of the biggest landholders in the city. This publicly subsidized real estate portfolio, as they pointed out, sits in sharp contrast to the deficit-ridden New Haven public schools hungry for property-tax dollars. Two months later, residents followed up with a 600-vehicle “Respect Caravan” that brought downtown traffic to a halt. 2
While immersed in organizing, this powerful coalition of residents, university wage-workers, city alders, and students were also reading. Members of the New Haven Rising coalition reached out to me in 2021, including Edwin Camp and Barbara Vereen, who told me that Yale’s powerful hold on the city had made them feel sometimes isolated, but they finally saw their struggles reflected in my book, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities. 3 In this book, I explored what happens to host communities when wealthy nonprofit organizations control exorbitant amounts of land in our cities and towns. New Haven Rising insisted I put down the pen and join their fight. Given the work that I was doing around universities and cities, how could I refuse?
Even before getting to New Haven’s Prospect Street, I could hear that residents and organizers had already begun the process of taking back a piece of the city. On a sunny May afternoon, they had disrupted the quiet and solemn atmosphere of Yale’s ivy-covered stone buildings with the sound of R&B and hip hop blasting from a powerful sound system. 4 Once on Prospect, I was awash in a sea of excitement and activity as over 150 residents, labor activists, students, and onlookers buzzed about, handing out food and water, playing with young children, stewarding informational tables, dancing to the music, and finishing a massive art project that immediately drew my attention. This rally sat in the shadows of Yale, but school was in session out on Prospect Street.
I was brought there to discuss how the Yale struggle is situated within a much larger national context, but all of my words and research paled in the face of the stunning data visualization before me. Comrade artists had begun by painting a tiny red stripe on Prospect St, representing Yale’s then-$13 million annual voluntary contribution for taxes. This was juxtaposed with a massive 670-foot blue stripe that ran the length of the block, to capture the university’s then-$30 billion endowment. The visual contrast between this nonprofit university’s financial contribution and its wealth accumulation was stunning. And the endowment was just the beginning of the story.
Speaker after speaker offered moving testimonies of what it means when one of a city’s biggest landholders is a tax-exempt nonprofit like Yale University. A young adult explained how Yale’s expansion into the neighborhood was a direct agent of violence, both raising property values and pushing youth into dangerous enemy gang territory. Students and teachers described how their property-tax-starved schools had outdated textbooks, overcrowded classrooms without enough seats, and bathrooms with no soap. The connections here between university prosperity and neighborhood impoverishment were direct and deadly, and the nonprofit control over land was the smoking gun.
Hedge Funds That Conduct Classes
Today, universities turn their research into lucrative commercial goods and patents in a range of fields, from the pharmaceutical industries and software products to health services and military defense weaponry.
We have largely presumed that higher education is an inherent public good, most clearly marked by its tax-exempt status. Colleges, universities, and their medical centers are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organizations. Because higher education institutions provide the public good of education to surrounding communities, their property holdings are exempt from taxation in all 50 states. Even on the point of educational service, one could question the legitimacy of this arrangement, as schools become increasingly more selective and target out-of-state students who pay a larger tuition. 5 But furthermore, we must consider the broader implications of the financial consequences wrought by this property arrangement.
In today’s higher-education landscape, classrooms filled with professors and students have become a minor side business on the increasingly profitable college campus. The greater value of campus land is in its nonprofit tax-exempt status, which serves as a financial shelter for profitable research and private investors. The meteoric rise of the knowledge economy positions schools as financial titans in our big cities and small towns, and the financial arrangements produced by the tax-exemption of nonprofit land is central to their wealth hoarding. After a group of universities lobbied to pass the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, higher education institutions could now take the results from publicly funded research and convert it into intellectual property. 6 Schools like Stanford, MIT, and Yale immediately scrambled to create technology transfer offices that helped them privatize and profit from the work done in laboratories sitting on tax-exempt land. 7 Today, universities turn their research into lucrative commercial goods and patents in a range of fields, from the pharmaceutical industries and software products to health services and military defense weaponry. 8 And after the fall of factories in the United States, knowledge has become the new face of capitalism, with university bell towers described in glowing terms as the smokestacks of today’s cities and towns. 9
Both university leaders and city and town officials laud the “economic impact” that comes from the public–private partnerships now converging on campus land. 10 The research makes lifesaving discoveries, trains the next generation of knowledge workers, generates spin-off companies, and attracts new investors and workers to invest back into cities. And now, from New York’s Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island and the new Arizona State University Polytechnic campus in Mesa to the glittering glass and steel partnership between Amazon and Virginia Tech, everyone wants a campus. Such campus formations don’t even account for the millions made off of uncompensated “student athletes” and the low-wage workers who service massive tax-exempt college sports stadiums in the same neighborhoods. 11
Under the cover of “educational purposes,” research that has the potential to generate millions in patent revenues—let alone the revenues from construction or health services—benefits from the reduced overhead of sitting on property-tax-exempt campus land.
After decades of urban disinvestment, many urbanites celebrate these schools as “anchor institutions” to help drive their area’s big comeback or renewal. 12 Today’s schools redirect to cities and college towns what used to be known as “suburban research parks” 13 and now are termed “innovation districts,” in which academic research and corporate sponsors bring together real estate development, various forms of retail, and relatively cheap knowledge labor. 14 Once-impoverished neighborhoods, largely populated by residents of color, are now being redeveloped to optimize “value capture” via the conversion of city or town blocks into both research and real estate development profit-making ventures. 15
Local governments, developers, and universities reap economic rewards by dressing up spaces of academic/industry collaboration in a mix of luxury housing, storefronts, classrooms, and laboratories. Real estate developers like Wexford: Science + Technology have calculated the benefits of working on property-tax-exempt campus land. Wexford focuses exclusively on what they call “knowledge communities” and works with cities and schools to build a monied portfolio of university-affiliated projects like Philadelphia’s UCity Square, Converge Miami, and Aggie Square in Sacramento. 16
Under the cover of “educational purposes,” research that has the potential to generate millions in patent revenues—let alone the revenues from construction or health services—benefits from the reduced overhead of sitting on property-tax-exempt campus land. Again, these financial and spatial arrangements can be quite lucrative for cities, towns, universities, and their private investors. But exactly how does this anchor model benefit the residents who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and most likely also clean the campus floors, work in its labs, or secure its perimeters?
One plaintiff in the Princeton case was so disgusted that he dismissed the university as a “hedge fund that conducts classes.” 18 It’s the kind of insult increasingly lobbed at today’s schools, with NYU often described as a “real estate company which also issues degrees.”
As we saw in the case of New Haven residents or with the developments of Wexford, a critical paradox has emerged from higher education’s nonprofit status that is especially acute when thinking about the issue of land: property-tax exemption is meant to signal higher education’s public good but actually allows for an easier transfer of public dollars into a school’s private developments. Even public universities, which are in fact government entities, use this public good status to secure their own interests in for-profit research and/or to shelter the financial security of private developers and investors that sit on campus land.
First, the profitable research produced for private companies in educational buildings creates what former New Haven mayor Toni Harp has called a “property tax gray area.” 17 Second, many schools also reap the benefits of police and fire protection, snow and trash removal, road maintenance, and public schools—all public amenities that are usually funded by property taxes. The property tax exemption of nonprofits then passes the financial burden of public services on to the host cities and their residents.
In 2016, Princeton University was ordered to pay more than $18 million to settle a lawsuit with residents of the historically Black neighborhood of Witherspoon-Jackson. Residents discovered a noticeable jump in in their property tax bills but few structural improvements in the neighborhood—and wondered why. They realized that nearby university buildings remained tax exempt while research for the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, generated millions of dollars in commercial royalties in those same school buildings. One plaintiff in the Princeton case was so disgusted that he dismissed the university as a “hedge fund that conducts classes.” 18 It’s the kind of insult increasingly lobbed at today’s schools, with NYU often described as a “real estate company which also issues degrees.”
Many have described these new financial arrangements as the “corporatization of the university.” But while accurate in some ways, such descriptions can also be misleading: the property-tax exemption afforded university campus developments actually reveals how their nonprofit status creates financial benefits specific to nonprofits that exceed explanations of corporatization and require their own analysis.
For example, I received a phone call from a Missouri local official serving an inner-ring St. Louis suburb (aptly called University City), 19 describing how the distinct status of higher education brought unique forms of exploitation to his community. After the nearby (and more affluent) town of Clayton halted Washington University’s campus expansion in St. Louis, the school turned to the nearby, more vulnerable working-class, multiracial town of University City. The school has started to buy up multifamily residential properties in the community for student housing. And the conversion of these buildings into what are sometimes derisively called “mini-dorms” not only takes the properties off the tax rolls but also inflates land values beyond the reach of the working-class single families who have traditionally called University City home. 20 And this tax hustle is not unique to wealthy, private schools. Let’s turn to Arizona State University.
In 2018, with a six-to-one vote, the Tempe City Council approved an Omni Hotel and Conference Center project that would pay almost no sales tax for up to 30 years. It would also pay no property taxes, because it was slated to sit on university land owned by the Arizona Board of Regents. 21 Meanwhile, as in many states, Arizona continued to pull back on its contributions to public higher education.
Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University and a self-proclaimed “academic entrepreneur,” was unabashed about looking for new “revenue stream[s]”. 22 ASU realized that in real-estate-friendly Arizona, they could lease their tax-exempt land directly to private companies. And instead of shelling out property taxes, such companies make a lower direct payment to the university. In this arrangement, the state legislature has no say on how the money is spent—which is usually on such things as new sports stadiums and the gigantic salaries of high-profile athletic coaches, like former NFL coach Herm Edwards. 23 Such university developments simultaneously raise property values and contribute little to public services. The most embarrassing edifice to this type of land scheme is the State Farm Insurance regional headquarters that sits on ASU land. This is the largest commercial development in Arizona, and it pays just a fraction of its property-tax burden, with public service costs passed on to residents.
In January 2019, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the Arizona Board of Regents for, essentially, renting out its tax-exempt status to private businesses. 24 Few were surprised when the State Supreme Court dismissed the case in developer-friendly Arizona. The Arizona Supreme Court recently revived this lawsuit, 25 but ASU continues to expand its campus projects throughout the region, including a Wexford-developed innovation campus in downtown Phoenix. Such unabashed manipulations of the property-tax gray area of nonprofits have only multiplied in recent years—but these glaring acts of exploitation, in the name of the public good, have not come without a response.
Equitable Urban Communities: The Smart Cities Lab Approach
The work here is guided by a mantra heard in the communities where I studied and struggled: The smartest cities develop without displacement.
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As I continued to work with the members of New Haven Rising, the experience was transformative. With all of the data accumulated from writing In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower, I created the Smart Cities Lab, to research and consult on best practices for building equitable urban communities. Given my work, it specifically focuses on university-driven urban development. The notion of “smart” has often focused on technological innovations and sustainable design, and I asked: What about the people—the diverse and marginalized communities that struggle to maintain sustainable lives in changing urban locales? And not only what about them as victims of urban development, but also how can people’s practices of historical preservation, mutual aid, and even speculative/artistic visions of life serve as models for smarter cities?
The work here is guided by a mantra heard in the communities where I studied and struggled: The smartest cities develop without displacement. Admittedly, the work at SCL was initially quite academic, focusing mostly on data collection and research dissemination; but the twin forces of the global pandemic and the racial justice mobilization of summer 2020 found communities all over the country seeing themselves in my research and insisting that I push past research and toward advocacy.
I continued to work with the “Yale: Pay Your Fair Share” campaign, which ultimately forced the university to add $52 million over the next six years to the city’s budget in compensation for property tax loss. 26 Of course, for a school with a now-$41.4 billion endowment, $10 million a year is little; 27 but this modest victory is important, because Yale identified the payments as tax compensation—which, after years of resistance, signals that schools do in fact have a fiscal responsibility to their host communities. Other communities have watched this development with great interest, and now the lab is working on various strategies to realign the land control of nonprofits with a more robust public good ethos.
We have worked with organizations in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island to push forward legislation that would force nonprofits into a greater fiscal responsibility for their property tax exemption. For years, the city of Boston asked wealthy nonprofits with property holdings over $15 million to give 25 percent of what they would pay in property tax if they were for-profit entities. This calculation was designed to not penalize modest nonprofits and only account for the percentage of tax collections that fund public services. And still, not one school ever paid the full 25 percent. 28 The lab is now working with a collection of residents and elected officials to make that 25 percent mandatory and applied statewide.
The lab has also supported communities in protracted land use battles in both Berkeley and Miami. As a way to generate more revenue, the University of California, Berkeley has continued to raise enrollments in violation of its Long Range Development Plan. 29 A mixture of affluent NIMBY types, historic preservationists, and working-class residents finally had enough. In a series of lawsuits, they generally demonstrated how unregulated enrollments, without enough campus housing, pushed students out into the city and shifted burdens for facilities onto the city; and private landlords converted single homes into “mini-dorms” to profit from the growing market. 30
We are working with various groups to highlight these real estate deals and private partnerships brokered by UC Berkeley in the name of serving the public good, and the lawsuits cite research from the lab. The involvement of NIMBY-type homeowners made the struggles over UC Berkeley’s profit-oriented developments a little murky, because, while far more complex, the fight over growing enrollments was spun as being led by disgruntled citizens more concerned with property values than expanded educational opportunities. But the broken promises of national developers like Wexford clearly demonstrate the exploitative nature of private investors seizing on the financial shelters provided by nonprofit campus land.
When Wexford partnered with the University of Miami to build their Miami Converge development, community organizers valiantly pushed back, forcing them to at least agree to lease ground floor spaces to nonprofits that served the Black and Latinx communities of Overtown and Allapattah that surround the property. Now those nonprofits are being threatened with eviction. Because SCL is working at a national scale, we use Wexford’s efforts to resolve tenant concerns at Miami Converge as a litmus test for Wexford outreach and development ambitions in other communities where we also work. In short, SCL’s global vision allows us to say that Wexford’s efforts to resolve the harms they are inflicting on our partners in Miami will dictate our capacity to support (or resist) the firm in other communities. One of those communities is the Black Bottom, located in West Philadelphia. 31
Penn, Drexel, and other nonprofit members of the West Philadelphia Corporation have run rampant in the Black Bottom since the 1950s, displacing hundreds of Black families and, ultimately, renaming the area University City. 32 SCL worked with community historians and residents to recover the original 1969 agreement for University City that came as a result of hard-fought community organizing. 33 The actual agreement mandated that affordable housing would exist alongside the university research and private development projects targeted for the area (to be renamed University City).
Struggles over campus expansion have been instructive on their own, but the summer of 2020 protests also helped us clarify the central role that campus policing plays as a critical mechanism for higher education’s seizure—as well as control—of campus land in projects of expansion.
The recovery of this original plan happened just as UC Townhomes, the one affordable housing development in the area, is currently threatened with demolition to make way for the many med-tech investors and real estate developers that continue to feed on the breached agreement. (The development buzzards currently circling include Wexford.) SCL worked with Councilmember Jamie Gauthier to advocate for a modest inclusionary zoning overlay pilot to help compensate for the failure to construct affordable housing as outlined in the original commitment. We continue to partner with the organization Black Bottom Tribe to help craft their demands for a comprehensive reparations package in the face of historic damages caused by members of the West Philadelphia Corporation. 34
One modest form of repair came out of a meeting with medical students at Penn, in which I referenced the tons of food thrown away daily at school cafeterias as “low-hanging fruit” in building out more just land use practices in West Philadelphia. I talked about how that food could be easily repackaged into healthy meals for communities in need. A medical student, Cooper Penner, took me up on that challenge, and with the voluntary assistance of low-wage food service workers, is now running a food redistribution program from the Penn medical school cafeteria. And even though the university—of course—benefits from the good publicity, it still (as of May 2023) fails to offer financial aid to this worthy endeavor.
We were also proud to offer support to the Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, residents who faced eviction at the hands of Boston University (BU) this year. 35 When wealthy LA real estate developer Frederick Pardee died, he left these residential properties to his alma mater. BU initially favored profits that could come from the offers submitted by private developers—which would, of course, have made the nonprofit university a direct driver of gentrification and displacement. But after a resident-driven campaign (fought in the streets and on social media) built momentum, the university felt compelled to accept an offer from the tenants’ community land trust. 36
Struggles over campus expansion have been instructive on their own, but the summer of 2020 protests also helped us clarify the central role that campus policing plays as a critical mechanism for higher education’s seizure—as well as control—of campus land in projects of expansion. By working with organizations like the Cops Off Campus Coalition, SCL has also been able to develop an analysis of campus policing as a pernicious and violent mechanism of land control, labor management, and political disenfranchisement. The jurisdictional politics of campus policing reveal this higher education unit’s primary role as an agent of gentrification and displacement far above any claims to “community safety.”
During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, UCLA allowed this stadium to be used as a field jail to detain protestors without access to food, water, or medical attention.
Schools, including the University of Chicago, hold policing jurisdiction and arrest and detention powers wherever there is a campus building even just projected for development, while other institutions, like Yale and the University of Cincinnati, have Memorandum of Understanding agreements to police the entire city. And in an overwhelming number of states, the Freedom of Information Act exemption for private institutions is extended to campus police even when engaging nonuniversity residents. In practice, students at predominantly White institutions continue to be given amnesty for campus crimes, while the largely working-class neighborhoods and communities of color in these host cities face overpolicing and racial profiling.
The disparities in policing share a common thread of signaling safety and convenience for students at predominantly White institutions alongside the researchers and investors that converge on lucrative campus lands. At the same time, the extended jurisdiction of these policing units allows the institution to regulate community behavior. Such university-oriented policing sets the stage for university affiliates and buildings to occupy spaces and retrofit neighborhood lands for university value capture.
The convergence here between the campus and policing extends beyond individual patrol units in host communities. Consider the struggles over UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium. Through the powerful UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, we learn how universities deployed the legacy of a racial justice icon to both seize public lands and turn them into a detention center in the face of lawful public assembly and protest. 37 During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, UCLA allowed this stadium to be used as a field jail to detain protestors without access to food, water, or medical attention. 38
Moreover, this sports complex sits on land that was initially deeded to the federal government to serve disabled and houseless veterans. But over the twentieth century, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs abandoned its housing mandate and leased out parcels of the property to various agencies and nonprofits, including UCLA. When houseless veterans sued the VA in 2011 for lack of housing, a court ruled UCLA’s lease illegal. But the university joined a lawsuit for the recovery of land and quickly began diversity-washing the property with the name Jackie Robinson. Now largely Black and Latinx veterans struggle to maintain lives in a “Veteran’s Row” of makeshift shelters sitting along the fence of the VA. 39
And interest in these nonprofit land struggles has gone global. In the Netherlands, partners at Erasmus University’s Vital Cities and Citizens watched as their institution partnered with local and regional government actors and other nonprofits to propose a Cultuur Campus project in the largely immigrant community on Rotterdam’s South Bank. 40 Colleagues saw devastating parallels with the work of my lab and their own experiences around nonprofit-driven land development and policing in this marginalized South Bank community. We are now thinking through efforts to negotiate more equitable terms for the host neighborhood that will surround this proposed development.
Forging A Different Path
These schools, and their medical centers, are today’s workshops…and their campuses are a critical urban land form that not only sets land values for whole cities but also has become the site of much broader struggles over affordable housing, living wages, neighborhood displacements, and democratic governance.
To be fair, the successes of the SCL have been piecemeal and incremental. Pushing higher education to reconsider its profit model is a daunting challenge. At the same time, it is in struggle, with communities, that we cocreate the building blocks for nonprofit land use strategies that serve a broader range of public interests and more equitable visions of community development.
SCL has partnered with the Humanities Action Lab at Rutgers University-Newark and Minnesota Transform to initiate The Renewal Project. This will be a research and public engagement project about higher education’s largely untold national role in the devastating history of demolition and displacement during the urban renewal period following World War II. 41 The work will include a mix of historical recovery, coursework, public commemorations, and—crucially—campaigns for reparations to atone for both historical harms and their present-day legacies.
There is no question that nonprofit land is a vital site of struggle for economic and racial justice; and in SCL’s varied efforts of research and advocacy with communities on the ground, we have come to a series of broad conclusions that guide our work:
- Colleges and universities must offer reparations for their role in in the slave economy, Indigenous land seizures, 42 Jim Crow segregation, and urban renewal practices.
- Schools must calculate some form of Payments in Lieu of Taxes for the public benefits they reap from tax abatement. Instead of a flat rate, we believe that educational institutions can contribute a degree of PILOTs in relation to their contribution to local projects, including the transfer of endowments to community-serving financial institutions.
- County or city/town assessors must develop a formula to properly evaluate higher education’s land use claims of “educational purposes” on campus properties.
- A community benefits agreement must be attached to all campus development projects, which can include affordable housing mandates, zip-code-specific job outreach and job training, and scholarships. Further, the common areas of all campus properties should be governed by a community charter to guarantee the equitable public use of campus space. Of course, CBAs have been created to uneven effect. So, in addition, city/town governments must create community-based zoning and/or planning boards with the legislative authority to approve or reject projects based on their community benefit.
- Finally, both private school and state university police have functioned as an occupying force to protect the assets of campus developments through militarized mechanisms of land control. Yet crime runs rampant on predominantly White campuses while surrounding neighborhoods of color face over-policing. We call for divestment from campus police and investment in teams of preventative outreach and trauma care alongside investments in housing and food security programs—all of which research proves actually reduce harms for everyone and are functions best provided by a university. 43
In the broadest sense, we must continue to discard the dated—and in some corners, persistent—mythos of these nonprofits as simply “cathedrals of learning.” In fact, these schools, and their medical centers, are today’s workshops—our knowledge factories—and their campuses are a critical urban land form that not only sets land values for whole cities but also has become the site of much broader struggles over affordable housing, living wages, neighborhood displacements, and democratic governance. The challenges are vast, but the response has been mighty—and it is growing. This story, about the monetization of nonprofit land and the mounting demands for community control, offers us a critical touchstone for grasping some conditions of precarity; but it also points the way to forging a different path in the world—one beyond today’s late capitalism.
- David Harvey, “The Right to the City,” New Left Review 53 (September/October 2008); and Henri Lefebvre, The Right to the City, trans. Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996), accessed April 21, 2023, The Anarchist Library, theanarchistlibrary.org/library/henri-lefebvre-right-to-the-city. Originally published as Le Droit à la ville (Paris: Anthropos, 1968).
- Thomas Breen, “Rally Demands Yale, YNHH Pay ‘Fair Share,’” New Haven Independent, May 26, 2020, www.newhavenindependent.org/article/coalition_protest; Ko Lyn Cheang, “Respect Caravan Clogs Downtown Streets,” New Haven Independent, July 29, 2020, www.newhavenindependent.org/article/yale_respect_new_haven_caravan; and Sophie Sonnenfeld, “Labor Paints Prospect Street With ‘Respect’ Message,” New Haven Independent, May 1, 2021, www.newhavenindependent.org/article /yale_respect_new_haven_paints_.
- Davarian L. Baldwin, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities (New York: Bold Type Books, 2021).
- Sonnenfeld, “Labor Paints Prospect Street With ‘Respect’ Message.”
- Ruth McCambridge, “On Nonprofits, Taxation, and the Public Trust,” Nonprofit Quarterly, April 29, 2019, nonprofitquarterly.org/on-nonprofits-taxation-and-the-public-trust/; and Ozan Jaquette, “State University No More: Out-of-State Enrollment and the Growing Exclusion of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students at Public Flagship Universities,” Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, accessed April 26, 2023, www.jkcf.org/research/state-university-no-more-out-of-state-enrollment-and-the-growing-exclusion-of-high-achieving-low-income-students-at-public-flagship-universities/.
- Baldwin, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower, 42–43.
- Ibid., 42–43.
- Ibid., 18.
- Ibid., 36.
- “Boston College’s Economic and Social Impact: Answering the Call at a Local, Regional, and Societal Level,” Econsult Solutions, Inc., 2021, econsultsolutions.com/case_studies/boston-colleges-economic-and-social-impact/.
- Neil Kleiman and Erika Poethig, “Here’s How Cities and Anchor Institutions Can Work Together to Drive Growth,” Next City, October 1, 2015, nextcity.org/urbanist-news/anchor-institutions-cities-national-resouorce-network.
- Paul Garton, “Types of Anchor Institution Initiatives: An Overview of University Urban Development Literature,” Metropolitan Universities, September 9, 2021.
- Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).
- Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner, The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, May 2014). And see Digital Futures Complex In the Cincinnati Innovation District, Cincinnati Innovation District, accessed April 21, 2023, images1.loopnet.com/d2/grT32PMrARH6FWZBMfCGn6REYdyCJb37vHatRoCfCfg/document.pdf; and “We Are a Community of Innovators,” Innovation Quarter, accessed April 21, 2023, www.innovationquarter.com.
- University-driven value capture happens here in a number of ways. The property-tax-exempt campus land sits at the core—but then this property arrangement also subsidizes the construction of housing, retail, and recreation for the university and its outside real estate developers. Campus land holds the below-market labor of contracted researchers and graduate students working on federally funded research that will be brought to market and returned to the school in the form of royalties. Alongside real estate developers, private investors in pharmaceuticals, software, health services, and so on are drawn to the savings in overhead and labor costs that come from working on campus land. This publicly funded or subsidized land arrangement also attracts nonuniversity affiliates to campus areas as residents, which draws additional developers in to profit from the conversion of older neighborhoods into campus areas, which raises housing and retail costs for long-term residents while simultaneously drawing resources from host communities that rely on property-tax revenues and living wages. The value capture here not only is concentrated and exclusive to campus affiliates but also explicitly relies on the extraction of public revenues at federal, state, and municipal levels—not to mention the daily costs of deprivation paid by residents who are often low-wage campus workers and the targets of campus police charged with protecting campus land.
- “Decades in the Works,” Wexford Science + Technology, accessed April 21, 2023, wexfordscitech.com/portfolio/; and see Baldwin, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower, 42–43.
- Markeshia Ricks, “Tax Yale Effort Revived,” New Haven Independent, March 16, 2016, newhavenindependent.org/article/tax_yale.
- Elise Young, “Princeton’s Neighbors Say to Heck with Freebies—We Want Cash,” Bloomberg, May 2, 2016, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-02/princeton-s-neighbors-say-to-heck-with-freebies-we-want-cash?leadSource=uverify%20wall.
- “History: A City Realized,” University City, Missouri, accessed April 21, 2023, www.ucitymo.org/54/History-cont.
- University City Councilmember Jeff Hales, conversation with the author, May 20, 2022.
- Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, “Tempe approves $21 million tax break for hotel and conference center,” The Arizona Republic, last modified January 11, 2018, www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe/2018/01/11/tempe-tax-break-hotel-and-conference-center-too-steep/1020421001/.
- Rachel Leingang, “How Michael Crow took ASU from a party school to the nation’s most ‘innovative’ university,” Arizona Republic, last modified December 14, 2019, azcentral.com/in-depth/news/local/michael-education/2019/02/28/michael-crow-changing-arizona-state-university-reputation-party-school-asu-innovation-global-brand/2670463002/.
- Rodger Sherman, “Arizona State Has Hired Herm Edwards to Be Its New Head Coach … or CEO … or Something,” The Ringer, December 4, 2017, theringer.com/2017/12/4/16733572/herm-edwards-hired-arizona-state-university-college-football.
- Laurie Roberts, “Mark Brnovich targets ASU tax dodge: ‘Michael Crow has become the most powerful person in Arizona’,” Arizona Republic, January 10, 2019, www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2019/01/10/asu-michael-crow-target-mark-brnovich-lawsuit-tax-dodge/2539874002/.
- Kevin Stone, “State of Arizona ordered to pay nearly $1M over dismissed ASU hotel lawsuit,” KTAR News92.3 FM, February 11, 2020, ktar.com/story/2974473/state-of-arizona-ordered-to-pay-nearly-1m-over-failed-asu-hotel-lawsuit/.
- Mark Zaretsky, “Yale University’s plan to increase payments to New Haven by $52 million gets go-ahead,” New Haven Register, March 16, 2022, www.nhregister.com/news/article/Yale-University-s-plan-to-increase-payments-to-17004295.php.
- “Yale reports investment return for fiscal 2022,” Yale News, October 4, 2022, news.yale.edu/2022/10/04/yale-reports-investment-return-fiscal-2022.
- Slide presentation from Massachusetts State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven, February 15, 2022; see also Zoe Kava, “Uyterhoeven’s PILOT reform bill under review in Mass. State House,” Tufts Daily, February 16, 2022, tuftsdaily.com/news/2022/02/16/uyterhoevens-pilot-reform-bill-under-review-in-mass-state-house/. And see “Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) Program: Fiscal Year 2022 PILOT Results,” City of Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu, accessed April 21, 2023, www.boston.gov/departments/assessing/payment-lieu-tax-pilot-program; PILOT Action Group, accessed April 21, 2023, pilotaction.weebly.com; and Davarian L. Baldwin, “Universities and Cities: Why We Must End the Nonprofit Path to Wealth Hoarding, NPQ, December 22, 2021, nonprofitquarterly.org/universities-and-cities-why-we-must-end-the-nonprofit-path-to-wealth-hoarding/.
- Davarian Baldwin, “How UC Berkeley has used public power to become a private developer,” San Francisco Chronicle, last modified June 1, 2022, www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/UC-Berkeley-development-17204108.php.
- Annie Lowrey, “NIMBYism Reaches Its Apotheosis,” The Atlantic, February 26, 2022, theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/uc-berkeley-university-enrollment-nimby/622927/.
- Jake Blumgart, “Blighted: How The Inquirer covered the clearing of West Philadelphia’s Black Bottom,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 2022, inquirer.com/news/inq2/more-perfect-union-black-bottom-philadelphia-20221208.html.
- Laura Wolf-Powers, University City: History, Race and Community in the Era of the Innovation District (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022).
- “The 1969 College Hall Sit-In,” Penn History, Penn Libraries, University of Pennsylvania, accessed April 21, 2023, archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-history/sit-in-1969/.
- See “Black Bottom Tribe,” accessed April 12, 2023, http://blackbottomtribe.org/.
- Sarah Michelson, “Baldwin Hills Tenants Fighting Boston University to Keep Their Homes,” Knock LA, December 30, 2022, knock-la.com/south-la-homes-boston-university/.
- Roshan Abraham, “These Tenants Fought Boston University For Ownership Of Their Homes, And Won,” Next City, January 26, 2023, nextcity.org/urbanist-news/these-tenants-fought-boston-university-for-ownership-of-their-homes-and-won.
- Maggie Vanoni, “UCLA professor calls out university for use of Jackie Robinson Stadium in protester detainment,” Los Angeles Daily News, last modified June 4, 2020, www.dailynews.com/2020/06/02/ucla-professor-calls-out-university-for-use-of-jackie-robinson-stadium-in-protester-detainment/.
- Hank Reichman, “UCLA Faculty Protest Use of University Stadium to Confine Arrested Protesters,” Academe Blog, June 3, 2020, academeblog.org/2020/06/03/ucla-faculty-protest-use-of-university-stadium-to-confine-arrested-protesters/; and Summer Lin, “UCLA rips the LAPD for using Jackie Robinson Stadium as ‘field jail’ for protesters,” June 3, 2020, www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article243239366.html.
- Ananya Roy, “Jackie Robinson Stadium: Prisoners Made Here,” Knock LA, November 11, 2020, knock-la.com/jackie-robinson-stadium-prisoners-made-here-d18a8ba4f34f/.
- Marianne Klerk, “Davarian Baldwin: ‘De cultuurcampus op Zuid is symbool voor de groeiende macht van universiteiten in steden,’” November 23, 2022, versbeton.nl/2022/11/davarian-baldwin-de-cultuurcampus-op-zuid-is-symbool-voor-de-groeiende-macht-van-universiteiten-in-steden/.
- See, for example, LaDale Winling, Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).
- Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone, “Land-grab universities,” High Country News, March 30, 2020, hcn.org/issues/52.4/indigenous-affairs-education-land-grab-universities.
- Davarian Baldwin, “Why We Should Abolish the Campus Police,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 19, 2021, www.chronicle.com/article/why-we-should-abolish-campus-police.