After 65 years of partnership with UChicago, the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) will transition to a self-governing entity independent of the University. The SECC board is currently appointed by the University of Chicago, with the board chair appointed by the University President, but after this transition the board will be appointed by the SECC itself.
SECC is a community organization that works with small business owners and residents toward economic development in nine neighborhoods on the mid–South Side, including Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Washington Park, and Oakland.
When the organization was founded in 1952, its work comprised much of the University’s engagement with the community. Over the last decade, the University has developed and partnered with several other community programs, including UChicago Local, the Community Programs Accelerator, Neighborhood Schools Program, and Hyde Park Jazz Festival. After a months-long decision-making process, members of SECC and OCE decided that this form of partnership with the University is not necessary because the SECC is no longer its primary means of engagement with surrounding communities, according to OCE Director of Communications Calmetta Coleman.
Coleman explained that SECC’s new relationship with the University will resemble that of other community organizations. “It’s really hard to say what it will be like because of the history with the University, but I think it will be similar,” said Coleman, “just that now the University is doing so much direct engagement that it does not have to do that work through the SECC.”
President Zimmer praised the University’s relationship with the SECC in a statement last week. “The SECC has served an important role for both the University and surrounding communities for more than six decades and we are grateful for its contributions,” he said. “As we continue the University's efforts to engage more directly in work to strengthen the South Side, we look forward to a new partnership with the SECC and its board members.”
Correction on Feb. 3, 2017, 5:28 p.m. CST:
A previous version of this article stated that SECC board members were appointed by the Office of Civic Engagement. They are appointed by the University and the board chair is appointed by the president of the University. It also stated that a formal relationship is no longer in place, but the University will continue to hold a formal partnership with the group.