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Bethlehem, Pa., August 31, 2007—Professors from eight local colleges and universities have collaborated to form the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium, a research center focused on quality of life issues in the Lehigh Valley. The group will operate within the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (LVIAC) which is comprised of Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College. Lehigh Carbon Community College and Northampton Community College are participating in the research consortium.
Moravian College is represented on the group’s executive board by Dr. Debra Wetcher Hendricks, associate professor of sociology. The group has elected Dr. Moser Michele Deegan, assistant professor of political science at Muhlenberg College as the director. In addition to representatives from the eight institutions, the advisory board members include civic and business leaders from Lehigh and Northampton counties.
The LVRC is in the process of building a community-based information system, which will link multiple data sets together for research and community use. The data will be available to the Lehigh Valley community on the LVRC website (www.lehighvalleyresearch.org), which also will include opportunities for community dialogue. Faculty involved in the LVRC will collect new quantitative and qualitative information for research and community use.
“The introduction of the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium (LVRC) into the community promises to benefit all those with ties to the area by providing those associated with academic institutions, social service agencies, and, even, the general public, easy access to an immense amount of information that, until now, would have taken a great deal of time to locate and organize.” Wetcher Hendricks said. “Data exists in raw form as well as being visually represented in geo-coded maps. Further, those in need of guidance while developing research agendas, performing data analyses, and producing research reports may seek the expertise of the consortium’s executive and advisory board members.”
“Uses of the LVRC website are not unidirectional, however.” Wetcher Hendricks noted. “With the goal of maintaining data on current and local topics of interest, the LVRC website includes an interactive forum that poses questions to those who visit the site, recording their responses and incorporating them into the ongoing assessment of Lehigh Valley culture. Clearly more than a simple data warehouse, the LVRC website offers those in the valley opportunities that have never existed before. From providing data examples for use in the classroom or for research projects to serving as a data-collection instrument in and of itself, the LVRC website and those involved in its creation and maintenance provide the Lehigh Valley with a wonderfully valuable resource,” she explained.
The group has had several organizational meetings to collaborate. In addition to several funding initiatives, the next step will be a valley-wide faculty forum, September 27, at Muhlenberg College. The Web site currently is live and will continually updated with new information. The group will post data, surveys and research to the site as well as provide opportunities for community dialogue.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.