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UNCP earns Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification

February 5, 2015

Carnegie Foundation SealUNC Pembroke is one of only 240 colleges and universities in the nation to earn the prestigious Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

UNCP earned the highest classification after achieving “outreach and partnership” status in 2008 when the program launched. UNCP’s newly elevated status reflects the university’s emphasis on curricular or classroom engagement through service-learning courses. 

For the 2014 Carnegie report, UNCP offered 38 service-learning courses with 653 students, an increase from 2008 when there were seven service-learning courses with 250 students. Service-learning incorporates civic engagement and community outreach into the classroom. 

Civic engagement of all kinds is a growth industry at UNCP. A total of 2,351 UNCP students logged 17,684 hours of service in 2013-14. The number of student-volunteers and service hours have approximately tripled in four years. 

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter said the Carnegie Foundation classification is the seal of approval for institutions of higher education, and it is one important measure of student learning. 

“An important part of the university experience is to become a responsible, engaged member of society,” Chancellor Carter said. “UNCP has made great strides in increasing opportunities for our students to actively participate in the life of the region. Achieving the Carnegie classification tells people unfamiliar with UNCP exactly how we have prioritized citizenship among our students.”       

The Carnegie Foundation, which announced its selections on January 7, named 18 North Carolina institutions to the list of highly engaged universities. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities and revitalizing their civic and academic missions,” the Carnegie Foundation said in making the announcement. 

Since 1970, the Carnegie Foundation has been the last word regarding classification of institutions of higher education in the U.S. Beginning in 2008, the foundation became the leading authority on community outreach and engagement, and UNCP has actively pursued their approval, said Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for Engaged Outreach. 

“In 2008, we earned one of the two categories of university engagement,” Dr. Hunt said. “Since then we have put great emphasis on service-learning and engagement through the classroom. We have also stepped up our community outreach significantly. 

“We are a fully engaged institution, and I am very pleased with the Carnegie Foundation’s confirmation,” Dr. Hunt said. “Our faculty, staff and students should be proud of this accomplishment.” 

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2008 as part of an extensive restructuring of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. 

While the Foundation’s other classifications rely on national data, Community Engagement is an “elective” classification – institutions submitted required materials 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 importance of this elective classification is borne out by the response of so many campuses that have demonstrated their deep engagement with local, regional, national, and global communities,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. 

 “We are seeing renewed institutional commitment, advanced curricular and assessment practices, and deeper community partnerships, all sustained through changes in campus leadership, and within the context of a devastating economic recession,” noted Amy Driscoll, consulting scholar for the Community Engagement Classification. 

Central to the classification process is a documentation framework to help applicants and reviewers assess the nature of an institution’s community engagement commitments. They represent campuses in 33 states and U.S. territories. 

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

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. 

For more information, please contact John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (617) 287-7743.