February 10, 2020

WCU Earns 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Carnegie Community Service 2020 West Chester UniversityWCU is one of only 11 Pennsylvania universities and 359 institutions nationwide that have received the 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years.

WCU is one of 67 public institutions classified this year and one of only 27 Pennsylvania institutions classified this year or in 2015 (our most recent classification).

Based on voluntary participation by institutions, this elective classification involves a substantial effort by universities in collecting data and documenting important aspects of institutional mission, identity, and commitments. The documentation is reviewed by a National Review Panel to determine whether the institution qualifies for recognition as a community-engaged institution.

First classified in 2010 for a 10-year cycle, WCU prepared for the 2020 reclassification more than two years in advance by gathering staff and faculty from a variety of departments and disciplines to engage in a comprehensive self-study around our community engagement efforts. WCU’s Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs serves as a key department for the coordination of community engagement efforts.

Many members of the University community contributed to this effort and this core writing team pulled the data together into a cohesive and comprehensive 84-page application: Susan Argentieri, Center for Community Solutions Liaison; Kate Colyer, Former Assistant Director, Service-Learning & Volunteer Programs; Julie Dietrich, Executive Director for External Relations; Scott Heinerichs, Dean, College of Health Sciences; Sara Hinkle, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs; and Katie Solic, Associate Professor, Department of Literacy.

There would be nothing to submit, however, were it not for the initiative and dedication of the WCU faculty, staff, students (and former students) who are on the front lines of our community engagement work. They are responsible for West Chester’s successes in this area. The University could not have achieved this milestone without them.

Paul LeMahieu, senior vice president at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, commended the institutions that earned the 2020 classification, noting that they “are doing extraordinary work in addressing their societal responsibilities in and through community engagement and service. In doing so, they bring scholarship, knowledge, and expertise to bear in the address of real challenges in our communal lives.”

Carnegie defines community engagement as collaboration 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. These collaborations fulfill the public purposes of higher education, improving teaching and learning and increasing the relevance of research while benefiting the broader community.

Sara Hinkle, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs and a member of the core writing team, notes, “The University is using the data from the self-study to advance our institutional strategic priorities, inform our Middle States [Commission on Higher Education reaccreditation] work and other accreditation needs, and enhance our efforts around community engagement.”

WCU’s classification is valid until 2026. Fellow State System of Higher Education institutions Millersville and Slippery Rock universities also earned classification this year.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is a nonprofit corporation founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by an act of Congress in 1906.

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