Town and Gown join April 17 to endorse 'Our Community Covenant'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A diverse group of local and county leaders will unite in a ceremony on April 17 to commit publicly to the ideals of a just and responsible community.

The "Our Community Day" initiative will be launched at a noon media event at the Arboretum at Penn State and will include individuals and groups from across the Centre Region and Penn State in support of "Our Community Covenant."

"Our Community Day was formed as a response to the national media's negative and incorrect portrayal of our community last fall," said Michael Flanagan, vice chair of family and community medicine for the Penn State Hershey Medical Group-State College and a member of the charter group. "Several people from various segments of our community came together as a group to address the question: 'How do we define ourselves?' We want to take back the definition of our community and what it means to be a part of the Centre Region."

The program will include representatives from various charter organizations, who will talk about the initiative and the events that led up to the conception of the covenant, and then will sign the covenant on behalf of their groups.

According to the initiative's website,, the purpose of the initiative and covenant are to "rally the community, both 'town & gown,' to make and embrace a covenant of our mutual values and commitments by public declaration, and to remember the tragic events of the last few months, to bring attention to the prevention of and healing from physical and sexual abuse, and to inaugurate an annual 'Our Community Day.' "

Flanagan emphasized that April 17 is "only the beginning" with the signing of the covenant.

"We're opening up the opportunity community-wide for anyone in the Centre Region who wants to join the initiative and sign the covenant," he said, "which they can do by visiting the website. This fall, we plan to hold Our Community Day, which we've tentatively scheduled for Sept. 9 -- a day for town and gown to come together to celebrate the good things that make our community such a great place to live."

Flanagan said the hope is to make this an annual event, possibly addressing a different important community issue each year. He added that the event would "raise awareness at the same time that we celebrate the positive aspects of our community."

Businesses, organizations and individuals can visit to endorse the covenant or to volunteer to help with future plans.

Charter organizations and entities include Penn State and the Penn State Hershey Medical Group-State College, as well as several University student groups, including the Off-Campus Student Union. Joining them are the Centre County United Way, Centre County Woman's Resource Centre, Centre County Community Foundation, Borough of State College, Keystone Church, and Community Diversity Group, among others.

Additional groups are expected to sign on before Sept. 9. Further information about "Our Community Day" will be available on the website in the upcoming months.

Michael Flanagan, vice chair of family and community medicine for the Penn State Hershey Medical Group-State College. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated May 24, 2019