Universities: Studying the Urban Revolution

In Boston's mostly Negro Roxbury area, a woman wearily opened her front door, stared at the well-pressed youth with his clipboard and asked, "O.K., are you from Harvard, Boston University or Tufts?" Professors and students from all three institutions — as at most every urban university in the U.S. — are out pounding the streets these days, seeking facts and the means by which the schools can help their cities cope with what New York University President James M. Hester calls "the urban revolution."

Until recently, most urban universities tended to stand aloofly apart from the cities in which they...

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