UNCP earns national recognition for community engagement efforts

UNC Pembroke earns 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

UNC Pembroke is among 40 universities and colleges nationwide to receive the prestigious 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

Awarded by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the designation highlights an institution’s commitment to community engagement. UNCP earned the award during previous classification cycles in 2008 and 2015.

“The reclassification holds profound significance for UNCP as it elevates our standing as an institution deeply committed to community engagement. Carnegie’s recognition is not merely a label, but a validation of the transformative impact UNCP has on the communities we serve,” said Sandy Jacobs, director of Community and Civic Engagement. 

The classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education since 2006.

“This classification not only signifies our commitment to creating meaningful relationships with our community but to the positive impacts we’ve been able to make in the lives of others as a result of those relationships,” said Dr. Christie Poteet, assistant vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

Jacobs emphasized that the award results from an institutional-wide effort and credits relationships that several departments have built with community partners over the years, which has expanded its impact in the region.

“You can’t get much higher as far as community engagement in higher ed,” Jacobs said. “So, for UNCP––as a small rural institution––to lead the way in what it means to serve and give back to the community, this speaks volumes. Service is a big part of who we are and ties back to our founding.”

The recognition stems from the UNCP’s commitment to service as demonstrated through institutional-wide initiatives, academic service-learning, and community-based projects often facilitated by the Office for Community and Civic Engagement in collaboration with the university’s more than 150 community partners, including the Robeson County Church and Community Center Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Pembroke Housing Authority and the Lumbee Tribe. Through these initiatives, 2,098 student volunteers have contributed 21,759 volunteer hours equating to an estimated in-kind donation of more than $68,000 to our community. 

The award was a result of a combined campus-wide effort of several faculty and staff including Poteet, Jacobs, Dr. Scott Hicks, director of the Teaching and Learning Center and Evan Long, associate director for Service Learning.

“UNCP has established strong and enduring partnerships with local organizations, businesses and community leaders. These collaborations go beyond traditional academic boundaries, creating mutually beneficial relationships that address community needs and provide our students with enriching experiences,” Jacobs said.

As a student, Madison Wilcox volunteered during Special Olympics events on campus and was inspired to co-create––along with former classmate Ian Fennell––the Sports Empowerment program that invites local high school students with disabilities to participate in various sports. Today, the program––led by UNCP students, faculty, staff and community volunteers––is in its ninth year. It is lasting partnerships with the Public Schools of Robeson County and countless others that further enhance curriculum, teaching and learning at UNCP.

“Attending UNCP made all the difference with me getting involved in the community,” Wilcox said. “I wouldn’t have had the same experiences at a larger university. It’s evident that UNCP sets itself apart from other universities regarding its commitment to the community. I am super excited for UNC Pembroke to be recognized nationally.”