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Partnership between city, university marks new era
town gown pic
President Joseph Sheley of CSU Stanislaus discusses the newly formed partnership between the City of Turlock and the university, as the two joins together with the International Town and Gown Association to address topics affecting the college campus and local community. - photo by CARA HALLAM / The Journal

When former provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Sacramento Joseph Sheley came to serve as interim president at CSU Stanislaus in 2012, he brought with him a vision of what an effective partnership between a university and its surrounding community looks like.

Now serving as the newly appointed president at CSU Stanislaus, Sheley is bringing that vision to life, sparking new partnerships throughout the Turlock community on a continual basis. Most recently, Sheley contacted City Manager Roy Wasden, proposing that the university and City join together as part of the International Town and Gown Association – an organization providing a network of resources for information on common issues between institutions of higher learning and the cities in which they reside.

Noting the wonderful relationship that has formed between the City and President Sheley, City Manager Wasden says that working together has been “truly a pleasure.”

“President Sheley has been one of the best people I have had the opportunity to work with in my life,” said Wasden, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Sheley, who says that he was thrilled that the City expressed immediate interest in joining the organization, noted the many mutual benefits provided through the International Town and Gown Association for both the city and university. As part of their vision statement, the organization strives to become the primary resource point to assist civic leaders, university officials, faculty, neighborhood residents and students to collaborate on common services.

“Although joining is a fairly symbolic gesture, I do believe this will result in some great things being accomplished together over the next few years,” said Sheley. “By focusing on services, programs, academic research and citizen issues, this partnership can help both the city and university create an improved quality of life for all of Turlock’s residents.”

Since moving to his position at CSU Stanislaus, Sheley says he has been “high on Turlock,” and has been actively seeking ways to directly help the local community. Although some have called for Turlock becoming more of a “university town,” Sheley says that the focus should remain on a mutual sense of community.

“I don’t want to call it a ‘university town’ because I don’t want to sell short the rich history of Turlock, which has been here long before the university was developed,” said Sheley. “But it is a university community, and I think we have reached a time in our mutual histories where we can determine where we want to go, and what we want for our shared community because neither the city nor the university is exclusively more important than the other.”

Several other universities and host cities throughout California are also part of the International Town and Gown Association, including CSU Chico, CSU Los Angeles, and California Polytechnic State University.

With CSU Stanislaus and the City of Turlock now joint-members of the association, the two will continually work together to address various topics such as budgets and the economy, campus planning, economic development, housing and community development, law enforcement and policing, parking, sustainability, city planning and transportation.

“This partnership is not only about Sheley’s vision of integrating the University with the community, but about improving the quality of life,” said Wasden.

To learn more about the International Town and Gown Association, visit