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Provost's Update

November 2013

Eastern seeks to renew Carnegie Community Engagement classification

Carnegie Get EngagedThanks to a project completed by EMU students in ACC 546 — Public and Nonprofit Sector Accounting — residents of Adrian, Tecumseh, Wixom and Ypsilanti can access a simpler, more understandable version of their respective city's annual financial reports. In Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, students from EMU's Historic Preservation program work with the Leelanau Conservancy to preserve key buildings at the historic Campbell-DeYoung farm. In Ypsilanti, English as Second Language (ESL) students from Eastern perform community service for local organizations as part of "Helpy Hour" activities. Agencies receive free assistance while the students enhance their English language skills.

These activities are among the many ways members of the Eastern community — students, faculty, staff and administrators — maintain a strong tradition of community engagement. In recognition of the ways Eastern improves the lives of people and the community as a means of enhancing learning, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected EMU to receive its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. Now, Eastern is seeking to renew its classification for 2015.

"Eastern's role as a university has evolved over time," says Jessica "Decky" Alexander, director of the Office of Academic Service-Learning, which is coordinating the reclassification process. "We're not just disseminators of knowledge—we're partners with the community, both locally and globally. We're a resource that creates opportunities for students to apply their learning within the community. The Carnegie classification legitimizes our community engagement practices and highlights its significance."

Carnegie defines community engagement as "collaborations 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." Eastern was one of just 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the designation for 2008.

"Community engagement is front-and-center in Eastern's new strategic plan," Alexander says. "We're continually seeking ways to better define and institutionalize our community engagement practices. This involves everything from scholarly activities to student involvement."

As part of the reclassification process, the Office of Academic Service-Learning created a series of web-based community engagement surveys for faculty, administrators, staff and students. Eastern will combine the survey data with other documentation to submit to Carnegie. The reclassification application deadline is April 15, 2014.

"The intent is not just to collect information about current engagement practices," Alexander says. "We also want to inspire people to roll out new initiatives. The surveys are part of our continuous improvement approach to community engagement."

Further details about the surveys will be made available on emich.edu and in other campus communications. Visit the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching website to learn more about the Community Engagement classification.