Metro State adds outreach job


Jaylani Hussein

Hopes to improve relationships with neighbors

Shoring up agreements made with Dayton’s Bluff residents last fall, Metro State University has hired a community liaison officer to ensure the school is in good communication with its surrounding neighbors.

The agreements were made following a sometimes tense dispute over the school’s plans for a new parking ramp and student center.

The hope is that the new staff, working out of the president’s office, will “shore up the communication channels for the university team,” said Tom Cook, assistant to the president and director of government relations. “The idea is to provide someone who really spends most of their time ... representing the university to the community.”

Stepping into the position is 34-year-old Jaylani Hussein, who previously worked in St. Cloud for a group called Community Action Against Racism, where he helped advocate for community members who were seeking to build a mosque, and saw opposition from some residents.

He has also worked on outreach for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and may be recognizable to residents from his role in a community meeting on emerald ash borers in March.

Hussein said he’s enthused about the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, and about building lines of communication.

“There’s many ways you can get everybody on the same page,” he said. “99 percent of problems can be averted with good communication.”

‘On the right track’’

Hussein started with the school on July 10. After getting oriented with university staff, he’ll be spending a good chunk of his time connecting with community groups.

The long-term goal for the position, Cook said, will be to “create a deeper level of understanding” between the school and the community.

Deanna Foster, director of the Dayton’s Bluff community council, called Hussein “a very well-spoken, very impressive, smart guy.”

“I think he’s going to be a good addition,” she added.

Along with Hussein’s position, the school also organized a group called the Community-University Action Team, which meets monthly and consists of an even mix of community members and school officials.

Foster and other community members from that group helped select Hussein from the candidate pool.

Foster said with the new community liason person and the action committee, the school’s poised to enjoy a better relationship with its neighbors.

“We’re on a better track now,” she said.

Tim Herman, director of the East Side Area Business Association, said the school’s steps made for an improvement.

“This is a change of direction for the positive for the university,” he said. “I’m kind of giddy, excited about the possibilities, because this has not been the experience for a number of years.”

For more information on the school’s efforts to connect with the neighborhood, go to the http://www.metrostate.edu/msweb/resources/depts_services/bldg_services/neighborhood.html webpage.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.

 

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