The Division of Community Affairs marked a proud day in its 5-year history with the announcement in January 2009 that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has awarded The University of Alabama its Community Engagement Classification.
The designation recognizes UA as one of the nation's premiere institutions in community-engaged scholarship. It doing so the Foundation underscores UA's commitment to community partnerships that integrate the campus' traditional teaching, research and service mission.
"This designation is a significant honor for The University of Alabama," said Dr. Samory Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs. "The classification gives some well-deserved recognition to UA's long history of community involvement, but it also symbolizes the beginning of a new commitment to scholarship and outreach involving service learning and community partnerships."
The Carnegie Foundation recognizes institutions in the categories of Curricular Engagement, Outreach/Partnerships or both. UA's designation is for both areas.
Curricular engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship that unite 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 in its many forms.
Outreach/Partnerships focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community, and on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources.
In addition to the Carnegie classification, UA is a member of the National Outreach Scholarship Consortium, an organization of nine leading universities that stress the unity of teaching, research and service. Others are the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
UA published the first edition of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES) in October. The peer-reviewed journal provides a vehicle for higher education professionals, students and community partners to disseminate scholarly works from all academic disciplines. A project of the Council of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, the journal is edited by Dr. Cassandra Simon, UA associate professor of social work.
UA was one of 119 U.S. colleges and universities identified to receive the Community Engagement Classification in December 2008. UA's Carnegie Engagement Application committee reviewed literally hundreds of outreach projects and the scholarship growing out of those projects from throughout the University to identify examples of community engagement partnerships to include in the application. A broad range of partnerships was highlighted in the application. They included:
- The Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Office of Community Affairs that connects faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve chronic problems identified by communities
- The Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, which prepares students to serve as effective, engaged and ethical citizens
- The Brewer Porch Children's Center, in which the UA department of psychology works with government agencies, community health centers and private counseling agencies to provide comprehensive treatment for behaviorally disturbed children, adolescents and families
- The Education Policy Center, which develops leadership skills of school administrators
- The Alabama Productivity Center, which assists businesses, local governments and state agencies with economic development.
Dr. Carolyn Dahl, dean of the College of Continuing Studies, and Dr. Stephen Katsinas, professor of higher education and director of the Education Policy Center, co-chaired application committee. Other members included Pruitt, Gary Creek, assistant vice president for marketing, Janet Griffith, assistant provost for communications, Lorne Kuffel, executive director of Institutional Research and Assessment, Dr. Edward Mullins, CCBP communications coordinator, and Becky Reamey, coordinator of the Blackburn Institute.