The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has earned the 2008 Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

UTC received the elective classification in both the areas of Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships. UTC joins such institutions as Duke University, Georgetown University, and Purdue University among the 119 institutions honored with the classification this year.

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, 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 enabled Carnegie to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

“We hope that by acknowledging the commitment and accomplishment of these engaged institutions, the Foundation will encourage other colleges and universities to move in this direction. Doing so brings benefits to the community and to the institution,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk.

UTC’s designation grew from the strategic planning process undertaken by the campus last year. The plan emphasizes the strength of partnerships and how the campus and community work together to benefit students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding region.

“We are very pleased that the Carnegie Foundation has now validated what we’ve known for quite sometime.  UTC has been a leader in the metropolitan university movement. We have solidly embraced the metropolitan mission, and our students and community have seen the benefits of this direction. Now, we have outside recognition from a well-respected source for our efforts,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown.

An emphasis on experiential learning opportunities and partnerships with Hamilton County Schools, local governments, health care institutions, and community foundations were cornerstones of UTC’s application to Carnegie.

“Acquiring this designation brings national recognition to our campus and places UTC among an elite list of institutions. It also may prove beneficial to us in competition for some grants, as agencies may look favorably at our commitment to engagement with the community,” said Chancellor Brown.

A UTC task force of Deborah Arfken, planning coordinator; Karen Adsit, director of the Walker Teaching Resource Center and co-chair of the Strategic Planning Initiative; Chuck Cantrell, assistant vice chancellor for university relations; Terry Denniston, executive assistant to the chancellor; and Richard Gruetzemacher, director of institutional research, compiled and submitted the successful application.

“I especially want to thank the task force that accepted the task of compiling and organizing our data into a successful application to Carnegie, and also I want to thank and congratulate the entire campus for the many wonderful programs and partnerships that are administered here. This designation is a testimony to the combined efforts of everyone on this campus,” said Chancellor Brown.

More about the classifications
To create this elective classification, the Carnegie Foundation, working with a team of advisors and a pilot study conducted by 14 colleges and universities, developed a documentation framework to assess the nature of an institution’s community engagement commitments. This year, 147 institutions applied to document community engagement, up from 89 in 2006. Of the total applications, 119 were successfully classified as community engaged institutions; 68 are public institutions and 51 are private. In terms of representing Carnegie’s Basic Classification, 38 are classified as doctorate-granting universities, 52 are master’s colleges and universities, 17 are baccalaureate colleges, nine are community colleges and three institutions have a specialized focus—arts, medicine and technology. They represent 34 states and Puerto Pico.

Institutions were classified in one of three categories:

  • Curricular Engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship which engage faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community-identified needs, deepen students’ civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being and enrich the scholarship of the institution.
  • Outreach and Partnerships describes two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources (research, capacity building, economic development, etc.).
  • Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships includes institutions with substantial commitments in both areas described above. *

*UTC earned this designation

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

“The Carnegie staff and our panel of advisors were heartened by the exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement of the selected institutions,” said Carnegie Consulting Scholar Amy Driscoll, who directs the Community Engagement Classification process for the Foundation. “We noted strong alignment between institutional mission and budgetary support, infrastructure, leadership, marketing, and faculty hiring, orientation, and development. There is also an increase in students’ curricular engagement with community, yet, there continue to be areas that need more informed development.”

Learn more about the Community Engagement Classification.

A listing of the institutions in the Community Engagement Classification can be found on the Carnegie website.

About the Carnegie Foundation
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center with the primary mission “to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold, and dignify the profession of the teacher.” The improvement of teaching and learning is central to all of the Foundation’s work. The Foundation is located in Stanford, Calif. More information may be found on the Web site at www.carnegiefoundation.org.

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