The Carnegie Foundation has selected the University of Utah as a recipient of the 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification endorsement, a measure of commitment to community engagement.
The U is one of 119 colleges and universities in the U.S. to receive the endorsement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2020. In all, 359 institutions now hold the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective endorsement.
“This is wonderful validation of our efforts to serve as the University for Utah through service, partnerships and strong connections to our communities,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “We are a better university because of our community engagement, which enables our students, faculty and partners to form reciprocal relationships that benefit us all.”
The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University. The Swearer Center is the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.
“The institutions that we are recognizing today are doing extraordinary work in addressing their societal responsibilities in and through community engagement and service,” said Paul LeMahieu, senior vice president at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “They inspire us, even as they instruct us how to be our best selves in service to our communities.”
Of the 119 institutions classified in the 2020 cycle, 44 are receiving the classification for the first time while 75—including the U—have had their classification renewed. The review committee looks at alignment among an institution’s mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.
At the U, community engagement efforts include: the Driving Out Diabetes Initiative; work by the National Center for Veterans Studies to address veteran’s health and wellness; University Neighborhood Partners collaboration with west-side communities; the American Dream Ideas Challenge effort to boost middle-class households; sustainability practices facilitated by the Sustainability Office; the First Star Academy’s work to improve educational outcomes for youth in foster care; and the Bennion Center’s community engaged learning courses and student service activities. In the 2017-18 academic year, more than 3,000 students participated in 136 different community-engaged courses.
The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years.
The center noted that many higher education institutions are making significant strides in finding ways to engage with community partners, building on community assets and addressing a wide array of community challenges.
At the same time “many campuses are facing difficult times and finding it challenging to maintain and advance their community engagement in the current climate,” said Mathew Johnson, executive director of the Swearer Center. “It is our hope that by celebrating these classified campuses others might come to see community engagement as part of the strategy to address the current set of challenges in higher education.”
Adapted from a release by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.