EMU receives Carnegie designation for community engagement

by Ward Mullens, Published January 26, 2009

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YPSILANTI — The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Eastern Michigan University to receive its 2008 Community Engagement Classification.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1906, is a highly-regarded independent higher education policy and research center.

“Eastern Michigan University has a strong tradition of community engagement,” said Susan Martin, EMU president. “This University not only helps educate great students, but understands that those students need to be vital and productive members of their respective communities. We take great pride in our community and are committed to serve it.”

“Throughout our history, we have promoted and supported involvement beyond the campus as a way of improving the lives of individuals and the community, and as a means of enhancing learning. This Classification in Community Engagement provides national recognition of EMU's commitment and impact,” said Bette Warren, interim associate vice president for academic programming at EMU.

The office of diversity and community involvement, VISION (Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods) and the office of academic service-learning work to develop student involvement in the areas of service, leadership, civic engagement and advocacy.  The two offices have worked collaboratively since jointly receiving an AmeriCorps grant in 1996.

  While VISION does this directly through student development activities, the office of academic service-learning accomplishes this goal by helping faculty integrate service into their curriculums, scholarship and creative works.

 A hallmark of the recent revision in the university's general education requirements is the Learning Beyond the Classroom (LBC) component.  Students may choose to meet their LBC requirements through participation in academic service-learning courses or community-based service through VISION. 

There are numerous examples of EMU’s community engagement, from the operation of eight charter schools to programs such as Jumpstart, which provides EMU students as tutors to help promote literacy in early childhood development centers that serve low-income families in the Ypsilanti area.

Other EMU community programs include America Reads, which helps improve reading and writing among children in grades 1-3, and the Washtenaw County/EMU Legal Resource Center, which provides help with legal paperwork and the navigation of the court system.

“Those are just a few of the ways members of the EMU community, including students, administrators, faculty and staff, have worked and volunteered alongside local and regional leaders to enhance and improve the lives of the people we all serve,” said Peggy Harless, assistant director of diversity and community involvement.  “Receiving the Carnegie designation highlights these partnerships while bringing national attention to EMU as an institution that values community engagement, a recognition EMU truly deserves!”

EMU was one of 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the designation for 2008. These institutions join the 76 identified in the original selection process in 2006.

The Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement is a recent addition to the well-established Carnegie Classification system for U.S. colleges and universities. It is an elective classification that requires institutions to submit applications with extensive documentation. Of the 217 institutions that declared an interest in applying for the classification in 2008, only 119 were awarded the designation.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Ward Mullens

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