Lawrence, Kan.—When Jackie Counts looks around the new home for KU’s Center for Public Partnerships & Research (CPPR), the Center’s director sees more than an office and meeting space for her growing research and service team.
Counts envisions room to develop and flex new strengths and capacities that will advance CPPR’s mission to improve the well-being of at-risk children, youth and families. "This will enhance our ability to provide more integrated services across projects,” she said.
CPPR’s multidisciplinary staff of educators, social workers, psychologists and sociologists includes eight principal investigators and more than 40 additional staff. The Center currently has more than 30 grants involving early-childhood and K-12 education, child welfare, child-abuse prevention and programs for at-risk families.
“We work with state agencies and non-profit organizations that serve at-risk children, youth and families,” Counts said. “The new space creates a collaborative environment that will allow us to easily bring our partners to KU to work together to enhance services and to document results.”
The building at 1617 St. Andrews Drive in Lawrence was purchased by the KU Center for Research Inc. (KUCR), the University’s not-for-profit research foundation, which used private funds to close the deal on Sept. 4. By Tuesday, Oct. 15, up to 40 CPPR staff will have relocated to new offices in the building, and room remains for additional anticipated growth.
“We’ve had to spread out in a couple of buildings on campus, so this move will give us that concentration of people that helps to create a sense of community as a unit,” Counts said. “Everyone will be under one roof now, and that will be beneficial.”
The 11,700-square-foot, two-level facility was constructed in 1974 for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The property occupies 1.5 acres of land, including a substantial existing parking area. It is adjacent to Alvamar Country Club and just south of the Alvamar Professional Building. KU Continuing Education is located in the next building farther north, at 1515 St. Andrews Drive.
In addition to individual offices, the St. Andrews Research Facility features a large conference room and other common areas. Counts said she anticipates the new headquarters hosting training events in areas such as new performance-management solutions, or professional development on topics such as adverse childhood experiences.
“We’ll be more accessible to partners,” she said. “We want to become a hub in the community and the state to translate research into practice that optimizes the well-being of Kansas families."
CPPR’s move is part of the continued and rapid growth of the Achievement and Assessment Institute (AAI), established in 2012. As the umbrella organization for CPPR and three other specialized educational research centers at KU, AAI builds partnerships, products, and programs in educational practice, assessment, and evaluation. These initiatives benefit children, adults, communities, and publicly funded agencies at the local, state, and national levels.
“The Institute was just founded but is already growing,” said Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies and president of KUCR. “There’s an immediate need for basic space to house a large number of new hires. While the Institute is headquartered with the School of Education in Pearson Hall, its staff can work almost anywhere.”
Directed by Neal Kingston, professor in the Department of Psychology and Research in Education, AAI has a substantial portfolio of current grant funding, primarily from the U.S. Department of Education and the Kansas Department of Education.
“We outgrew our space on campus,” Kingston said, “but KU has been very supportive of our projects to support public agencies in Kansas and elsewhere. With our new space we will be able to work efficiently and effectively.”
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