This university-community partnership developed when practitioners at a community health centre within a regional health authority collaborated with nursing faculty at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. A philosophical match and work context facilitated this collaboration. Partners acknowledged that continued maintenance of the partnership, or its termination, was dependent on the acceptance of principles of partnership engagement. Even though the common philosophy of primary healthcare brought these partners together and reciprocal capacity building was the glue that nurtured their partnership, the tensions that arose fuelled its continued growth and development. Roles and responsibilities of members were discerned and space was created to acknowledge and integrate the lessons learned when tensions were examined. Within this environmental context, a model of partnership emerged. Tensions within this model were accepted as opportunities that resulted in beliefs being challenged, relevant questions generated and partnership alliances strengthened. In this spiral process, new relevant knowledge was constructed and new norms for best practice and policy were developed. The utility of this inter-professional Partnership Model: Living Inventory of Engagement is demonstrated through case examples.