Carnegie Foundation Recognizes Eastern's Commitment to Community Engagement

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has recognized Eastern Kentucky University for its strong commitment to community engagement.

EKU, honored for both for its curricular engagement and its outreach and partnerships, is among 119 U.S. colleges and universities the Foundation selected for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. These institutions join the 76 institutions identified in the 2006 selection process.

“This classification provides external, expert validation of what Eastern has been doing for many years, working with our stakeholders and constituent groups to provide excellent teaching, scholarship and service to the region, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world,” said E.J. Keeley, executive director of the University’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness. “It also shows that Eastern listens to what our stakeholders are telling us, and that we work with them as partners in a collaborative fashion to ensure that we are meeting their needs and improving lives through our work.”

Institutions were classified in one of three categories.

Curricular Engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship that engage faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community-identified needs, deepen students' civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being and enrich the scholarship of the institution.

Outreach and Partnerships describes two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources (research, capacity building, economic development, etc.).

Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships, the category in which EKU was cited, includes institutions with substantial commitments in both areas.

In order to be selected into any of the three categories, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.

"The Carnegie staff and our panel of advisors were heartened by the exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement of the selected institutions," said Carnegie Consulting Scholar Amy Driscoll, who directs the Community Engagement Classification process for the Foundation. "We noted strong alignment between institutional mission and budgetary support, infrastructure, leadership, marketing, and faculty hiring, orientation, and development. There is also an increase in students' curricular engagement with community, yet, there continue to be areas that need more informed development."

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, previously developed and offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation's other classifications that rely on national data, this is an "elective" classification — institutions elected to participate by submitting required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, local or beyond. This approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

"We hope that by acknowledging the commitment and accomplishment of these engaged institutions, the Foundation will encourage other colleges and universities to move in this direction,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk. “Doing so brings benefits to the community and to the institution."

To create this elective classification, the Foundation, working with a team of advisors and a pilot study conducted by 14 colleges and universities, developed a documentation framework to assess the nature of an institution's community engagement commitments. This year, 147 institutions applied to document community engagement, up from 89 in 2006. Of the total applications, 119 were successfully classified as community-engaged institutions – 68 public institutions and 51 private.

The Foundation, through the work of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, developed the first typology of American colleges and universities in 1970 as a research tool to describe and represent the diversity of U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers and others.

A complete listing of the institutions in the Community Engagement Classification can be found on the Carnegie website, www.carnegiefoundation.org.

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center. Its primary mission is "to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold, and dignify the profession of the teacher."

Published on August 31, 2010