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Greg Lindsey

Last modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2003

IU center celebrates 10 years of focus on urban policy, environmental issues

From community safety and riverboat gambling to property tax issues and the economic impact of the arts and sports, the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has spent the last 10 years working to improve the quality of life for residents of central Indiana.

"The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) created the center in 1992 with an award of general support from the Lilly Endowment Inc. and other support from the university," said Center Director Greg Lindsey. "Our goal has been to become a world-class research center on urban policy and environmental issues, and we are dedicated to accomplishing this goal in a nonpartisan and non-ideological way." Over the years, the Lilly Endowment has provided three awards totaling more than $15 million to help support the center.

Located at IUPUI as part of SPEA, the center is one of the largest university-based urban policy programs in the country in terms of staff size. In addition to faculty members who work through the center, the organization has a staff of 12 professionals, 12 SPEA graduate students and support personnel. "We have the staff to compete with other research centers and small consulting firms," Lindsey explained in noting that the center has brought in more than $22 million in grant projects during its 10 years. The center's Web site is at

The center, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary at a special reception, focuses its research on a 44-county area in central Indiana. Clients have included the City of Indianapolis, Indiana Port Commission, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Indiana Gaming Commission, Indiana General Assembly, Office of the Governor, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Neighborhood Housing Partnership and Indiana Land Resources Council.

"This center has consistently generated work that matters both in Indianapolis and in communities around our state," said SPEA Dean Astrid Merget at the 10th anniversary event. "It is clear that this is an institute that deals daily with society's most pressing issues in many diverse and critical settings," she added.

"We are working to identify investment choices that can be made by households, governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations to enhance the quality of life in Indiana," said Lindsey, who is also the Duey-Murphy Professor of Rural Land Policy at SPEA and an expert on urban and environmental planning.

Lindsey said that although the center concentrates on clients in central Indiana, it also works with clients on the national scene such as the Ford Foundation, Points of Light Foundation and Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Among the current projects under way at the center are:

* evaluating the role of faith-based organizations in delivering welfare benefits

* measuring the use and effects of greenway trails in the Indianapolis area

* developing a model to forecast land use change in central Indiana

* creating an institute to train Indianapolis leaders for civic and economic development

* analyzing the board structure for the Indianapolis Museum of Art

* reviewing the impact of potential changes in the state property tax.

Gerald Bepko, interim IU president, spoke at the anniversary event and praised the center as a place where "idea makers" can work together to "create lean, responsive government, develop high-performing agencies and increase citizen involvement. This center has made the discussion of urban policy, the environment and our entire range of civic affairs more sophisticated and enlightened."

Bepko said examples of the center's success are such completed projects as a comprehensive analysis of community policing; studies of tax structures and riverboat gaming; analyses of land use management and water quality; reports on the economic impact of the arts, sports, health sector and nonprofit agencies; and effects of neighborhood empowerment on quality of life.

For more details on the center, contact Lindsey at 317-261-3000 or