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How to Make Public Engagement a Priority at Research Universities

Robert Jones_public engagement

Public universities should deepen their engagement with their communities and make those partnerships part of their core academic missions, says Robert J. Jones, president of the University at Albany, part of the State University of New York system. Universities’ expertise should be used to solve society’s complex problems, he says, and public engagement needs to be integrated into both faculty-reward systems and students’ educational experiences.

Mr. Jones spoke with The Chronicle about how college leaders can help overcome public mistrust of higher education by approaching community partners with more humility. On their campuses, he says, presidents need to make the case that community engagement not only is in the public’s best interest but also is in universities’ best interest.