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FSU Partners with Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office on Community Dialogue Series
08/10/2012

Frostburg State University has announced plans to continue its “Sustaining Campus and Community” dialogues for at least the next two years. These community meetings, initiated last spring, convene students, year-round residents, local officials and University leaders to discuss a variety of issues and create new opportunities for collaborative problem- solving and coalition-building.

Ultimately the project, in partnership with the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO), should facilitate the development of a community-based action plan to support improved communication and conflict resolution. The previous sessions produced some focused areas of discussions that will be the basis for the dialogues to come this fall.

“We are very grateful to MACRO for its forward- thinking leadership in encouraging and supporting open community dialogue,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter. “They came to us, and with their assistance thus far, FSU has made significant progress in strengthening our community connections, and improved communication has been a key component of our growing positive ‘town-gown’ relations. I look forward to building on those advances.”

The project will begin with a planning retreat on Sunday, Sept. 30, at a location to be announced, to develop a strategic approach to the dialogues. Anyone interested in being included in the retreat and being part of the leadership of this community-building effort should contact project manager Dr. Elesha L. Ruminski at elruminski@frostburg.edu or 301-687-4480. Ruminski is the chair of the Department of Communication Studies and coordinator of Leadership Studies at FSU, as well as the president of the Mountainside Community Mediation Center, a local partner in this dialogue series that will provide additional support.

The retreat will be followed by training sessions at FSU this fall to teach community participants how to lead a public dialogue, a conversational approach that helps people find common ground and build productive working relationships.

In addition, two open dialogue sessions are planned for the fall, both three-hour evening sessions with dates and downtown Frostburg locations to be announced. Both will be free and open to the public.

Everyone with an interest in the Frostburg community is invited to participate in any part of this process.

Nationally known conflict resolution scholar- practitioners who helped lead the spring sessions will return to offer their expertise, Dr. Frank Dukes, lecturer and director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia, and Dr. Marvin Johnson, founder and executive director of the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

MACRO will also assist FSU in identifying and developing new community-university projects and capturing the “Sustaining Campus and Community” efforts in documentary form to educate other communities facing similar challenges and opportunities.

The series is part of a continuing set of initiatives designed to teach all members of the Frostburg community about conflict management and violence prevention. Others include the campus conversation event for students held last November, the new Conflict Communication Studies track in the Department of Communication Studies and participation in the second national Enough Is Enough week-long anti- violence campaign in April. Another part of the initiative is the recent agreement between FSU and the city of Frostburg that allows their respective police departments to share jurisdiction in the neighborhood surrounding the campus and provides funds from FSU to increase the staffing and pay for Frostburg City Police officers.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258. -end-

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu