One of the nation’s top educational foundations has recognized The University of Toledo for its focus on community engagement.
“This is a recognition we chose to pursue because we feel it aligns so closely with the myriad ways we engage with our city and our region,” said UT Interim President Nagi Naganathan. “Thriving and effective institutions of higher learning have countless relationships that are deeply interwoven into the communities they serve. UT has embraced this mission, and we are grateful to the Carnegie Foundation for their recognition of our success.”
Unlike the foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an elective classification — institutions participated voluntarily by submitting 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. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”
“This is the first time that there has been a re-classification process,” said Amy Driscoll, consulting scholar for the Community Engagement Classification, “and 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.”
Among first-time recipients of the classification, 47 are public institutions and 36 are private. In terms of Carnegie’s Basic Classification, 28 are classified as research universities, such as The University of Toledo. 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.
UT’s application was spearheaded by the president’s Chief of Staff Office and included contributions and examples of community engagement from all of the University’s colleges. More than 70 individuals on campus provided input and assistance in the almost yearlong application process.
Naganathan expressed his thanks to UT President Emeritus Lloyd Jacobs for his leadership in launching this effort.
A listing of the institutions that hold the Community Engagement Classification can be found on the New England Resource Center for Higher Education’s website at nerche.org.