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Carnegie Selects Colleges and Universities for New Elective Community Engagement Classification

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected 76 U.S. colleges and universities for its new Community Engagement Classification. 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, be it local or beyond. This approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

"The Community Engagement Classification is an exciting move in Carnegie's work to extend and refine the classification of colleges and universities," said Alexander McCormick, who directs Carnegie's classification work. "It represents a significant affirmation of the importance of community engagement in the agenda of higher education."

To create this elective classification, the Foundation, working with a team of advisors, developed a documentation framework to assess the nature of an institution's community engagement commitments. Eighty-eight institutions applied to document community engagement for the new classification.

Institutions were classified in one of three categories:

Curricular Engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship which 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. (5 institutions)

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.). (9 institutions)

Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships includes institutions with substantial commitments in both areas described above. (62 institutions)

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.

"While we found some wonderful examples of deeply engaged institutions, we also found some conspicuous omissions," said Amy Driscoll, an associate senior scholar at the Foundation who directed the pilot project. "For example, even among the most compelling applications, few institutions described promotion and tenure policies that recognize and reward the scholarship associated with community engagement."

Carnegie also found that few institutions acknowledge community engagement as a priority in their search and hiring practices. Those that do so provided language from position announcements or an interview protocol with questions targeted to probe a candidate's commitment to community engagement. Another area found in need of attention is the way in which colleges and universities approach community partnerships.

"Finding new and better ways to connect with their communities should be a high priority for higher education institutions today," says Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation. "The campuses participating in this elective classification provide useful models of engagement around teaching and learning and around research agendas that benefit from collaborative relationships."
The new Community Engagement Classification was developed as part of an extensive overhaul of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and represents a second phase of work that began last year. Last November, Carnegie released five new classification schemes, and last February released a revised version of the basic classification (the traditional framework developed in 1970). The Foundation has also created online tools that allow institutions and researchers to examine institutional classifications and generate custom listings.

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 listing of the institutions in the Community Engagement Classification can be found on the Carnegie Web site.

Curricular Engagement

Outreach & Partnerships

Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships

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