As a result of Penn State’s far-reaching community partnerships, including cancer prevention efforts in Appalachia and sustainable greenhouse design and production in Africa, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected the University for its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.
The classification recognizes “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy engagement,” according to the Carnegie Foundation. Some 361 U.S. colleges and universities have earned the classification.
In a letter supporting Penn State’s candidacy, President Eric J. Barron noted the University’s role as Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university and its long history of commitment to local, regional, state, national and international communities. “We are poised to align our land-grant legacy with today’s innovative research, teaching and service portfolio, and to reinforce our national leadership role in community engagement and engaged scholarship.”
Penn State is working to create opportunities for every undergraduate on every campus, including online students, to have at least one out-of-classroom engagement experience that complements their classroom learning.
A few of the dozens of examples of Penn State’s community engagement around the state, country and world include:
-- The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program, which involves about 100 students in designing and field testing economically sustainable technologies such as greenhouses, solar food dryers, telemedicine systems and other projects in Africa, India and the United States.
-- The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, which works to strengthen metropolitan businesses and communities in downtown Pittsburgh.
-- The Northern Appalachia Cancer Network, a community-academic partnership that aims to reduce the incidence and death rate of cancer in Appalachian Pennsylvania and New York.
“The Community Engagement Classification recognizes Penn State as one of the premier institutions in the country working to address key societal issues and advance society by engaging with our community,” said Craig Weidemann, Penn State’s vice president for Outreach and vice provost for Online Education. “It attests to the breadth and quality of our work at every Penn State campus.”
Weidemann said community engagement is a way for the university to apply its teaching and research resources to community problems, while at the same time preparing students to become informed, contributing citizens.
Institutions participate voluntarily in the classification, submitting extensive documentation and materials describing the nature and extent of their community engagement.
“These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.
Penn State first earned the classification in 2008. The Carnegie Foundation defines community engagement as “collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”