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Cortland Becomes First in SUNY to Earn Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification

12/29/2008 

SUNY Cortland was among 119 U.S. colleges and universities The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected recently for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. These newly named institutions join the 76 identified in the 2006 selection process.

In order to be selected for this recognition, colleges had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.

“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,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk. “Doing so brings benefits to the community and to the institution.”

“The Carnegie staff and our panel of advisors were heartened by the exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement of the selected institutions,” added 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.”

“Carnegie classification cannot be obtained unless a college has systematic, extensive, and continuing programs of community outreach and student involvement, and promotes the scholarship of civic engagement,” said Richard Kendrick, who directs SUNY Cortland’s Institute for Civic Engagement. “The entire college community and our many community partners should be proud of this achievement, because it is not possible without the commitment of many, many people to our civic engagement initiatives.”

“We have the responsibility as educators to introduce our students to not only the way society is but also to the way society could be,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “Our goal is to increase the number of students who are committed to engaging in meaningful civic action by restructuring and reformulating academic program and processes, extracurricular programs and activities, and institutional culture.”

“Achieving Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation is a milestone for the College,” Kendrick said. “We are the first SUNY school to achieve this designation, and we are currently the only SUNY school to hold it. We are one of nine colleges and universities in the state to hold this classification.”

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.

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

A member of the New York Campus Compact, an association of college and university presidents committed to promoting active citizenship as an aim of higher education, SUNY Cortland was selected in the category of Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships, one of three classifications offered to institutions. The other two are Curricular Engagement as one separate category and Outreach and Partnerships as the other.

“It is particularly gratifying to me that we were awarded the designation in the Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships category, indicating the college’s commitment to the integration of the ideals of civic education and civic involvement in its curriculum as well as its commitment to the practice of civic involvement through our extensive ties with the community,” Kendrick noted.

SUNY Cortland cited many examples of its community engagement in its application to the Carnegie Foundation.
  • The College has affirmed that community engagement is a priority in its mission statement and institutional strategic goal for 2005-2010.
  • SUNY Cortland offers scholarships to standout students for their public service and conducts ceremonies to honor students, faculty, staff and their community partners for their collaborative work.
  • The College community’s involvement in civic-minded activities is emphasized in SUNY Cortland’s marketing materials seen by the public in print and on the Internet.
  • Past and current leaders of the College have explicitly promoted community cooperation toward the common good as a priority.
  • Involvement by faculty in scholarship related to public service offers a clear path to professional advancement.Curricular engagement that ties faculty, students and the community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration is strongly encouraged at the College. Such courses are offered across the disciplines; and students can easily identify such course offerings when registering for classes.