By Janel Shoun on 1/10/2011
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Lipscomb University as one of only 115 colleges and universities nationwide to receive its 2010 Community Engagement Classification. Lipscomb joins 196 institutions identified in the 2006 and 2008 selection process.
In order to be selected, institutions provided descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.
This classification places Lipscomb among the top universities in the nation along with institutions such as the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University, both approved for 2010, and previously classified institutions such as Duke, Georgetown, Pennsylvania State and Syracuse universities.
Lipscomb established its SALT (Serving and Learning Together) Program, requiring all students to meet specific service-learning requirements in order to graduate, in fall 2008. This program alone has resulted in more than 2,000 students involved in recent community service logging a record number of 121,910 student service hours within the past few years.
“We are certainly gratified to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation, one of the premier organizations in the country, for the engagement our students, faculty and staff have provided. We are pleased to see an organization with tremendous credibility provide Lipscomb with this prestigious Carnegie Classification,” said Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry.
Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. 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 enables the foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.
“Through a classification that acknowledges significant commitment to, and demonstration of, community engagement, the foundation encourages colleges and universities to become more deeply engaged, to improve teaching and learning and to generate socially responsive knowledge to benefit communities,” said Carnegie President Anthony Bryk. “We are very pleased with the movement we are seeing in this direction.”
This year, 305 institutions registered to receive the application. Of the total applications, 115 were successfully classified as community engaged institutions. Sixty-six are public institutions and 49 are private. They represent campuses in 34 states.
“Clearly there is a great deal of interest among colleges and universities in being recognized for their community engagement commitments,” noted John Saltmarsh, the director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE), the Carnegie Foundation’s administrative partner for the classification.
“We noted strong institutional alignment across leadership, infrastructure, strategic planning, budgeting, faculty teaching and scholarship and community partnerships” explained Amy Driscoll, a consulting scholar with the Carnegie Foundation and with NERCHE. “There is increased student engagement tied to the curriculum as well as increased use of institutional measures such as the NSSE for understanding student engagement in learning through community engagement.”
Driscoll also cited areas that needed development, including the need for more attention to developing reciprocal relationships between higher education and the community. Some institutions continue to operate in a “charity model” with the one-way application of resources, expertise, student and faculty support to community without acknowledging community assets, expertise, knowledge and resources.
Over the past few years, Lipscomb University has established various ways to involve community leaders and experts in programs and projects of the university, such as establishing advisory councils for business and other academic programs, providing on-campus locations for non-profit groups such as the Davidson Group (which promotes diversity awareness among businesspeople) and hosting various “conversations of significance” through the Institutes of Lipscomb University – public gatherings to discuss difficult issues in society such as racial diversity, religious conflict and health care ethics.
“There’s no doubt that while Lipscomb is benefiting the community with thousands of man-hours, the community is also shaping the perspectives and experiences of our students and employees,” said Christin Shatzer, director of the SALT program.
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 all institutions in the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification can be found on the Carnegie website at www.carnegiefoundation.org/