The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the UT Institute of Agriculture have earned the 2015 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for collaborating with community partners to address society’s most pressing needs.
The prestigious Carnegie engagement classification recognizes colleges’ and universities’ commitments to strengthening the bond between campus and community. UT joins a group of fifty-two universities with the “very high intensity” research classification and the engaged status designation. Fewer than half of the universities in Carnegie’s “very high intensity” research classification have achieved engaged status.
“Our university is an economic engine and a social change agent in our own backyard and across the globe, “ said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “We are proud to be recognized for our community engagement and outreach, service-learning, experiential learning, and volunteerism. The new Carnegie designation will sharpen our focus on the mutually beneficial partnerships and exchange of knowledge that help improve people’s lives.”
Community engagement is a key part of our nation’s evolving higher education agenda, and the new designation will help advance UT’s quest to become a Top 25 public research university, Cheek added.
UTIA Chancellor Larry Arrington said the Carnegie classification “recognizes the Institute of Agriculture’s strong commitment to the land grant mission, which is carried out daily by our faculty and staff. We provide real-life solutions to our communities through teaching and research, and especially through the impact of our extension programs offered in all ninety-five counties in Tennessee.
UT’s Office of Research and Engagement coordinated the joint application submitted from the Knoxville campus and Institute of Agriculture. Working with a broad-based advisory committee of campus and community representatives, Elizabeth Burman, director of community engagement and outreach, and Tim Cross, dean of UT Extension, chronicled UT’s commitment to working for the greater community.
To achieve the designation, campuses must document their collaborations with local, regional, state, national, and global organizations “to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”
“The future of research universities such as ours requires a strategic and sustained focus on solving societal grand challenges and realizing our impact to society in Knoxville, in Tennessee, and the world,” said Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor of research and engagement. “Engaging our partners in two-way relationships within government, in the corporate and foundation world, and in our communities is our essential path forward.”
The Carnegie classification is valid through 2025, at which point the university must apply for reclassification by demonstrating its continued growth in community engagement.
Underscoring UT Knoxville’s commitment to these efforts is the 2015 adoption of “Experience Learning”— which focuses on experiential learning— as its new Quality Enhancement Plan, part of its reaccreditation process for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
An event to celebrate the Carnegie designation will be held this spring.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the New England Resource Center for Higher Education administer the classification program