Developing strong, mutually beneficial relations between Georgia College and the surrounding community is a core aspect of our mission. Georgia College values collaboration with community partners to address mutually identified needs and to promote public well-being through teaching, learning, scholarship, and outreach. Not only is collaboration and partnership with the community an important aspect of our institutional identity, it is key to our educational commitment to our students. Community engagement advances Georgia College students’ academic and civic learning. It also helps them become more informed citizen leaders ready to serve the public good, locally and globally.
President Dorman’s Statement on the Carnegie Classification Application
Community engagement is at the core of who we are here at Georgia College. This fact was immediately obvious to me during my first months here and was reinforced with the selection of the theme for our Quality Enhancement Plan, “Building a Culture of Engaged Learning.” Our operational documents are interwoven with phrases that reflect our commitment to community engagement. However, the Georgia College family goes further; we add action to our aspirations. Faculty and staff members are engaged in a variety of community activities and they encourage their students to do likewise. Our students, through both curricular and co-curricular activities, become actively involved in the community at-large. Our GIVE Center, long a source of pride locally, has become an example for other universities and schools to emulate.
We have much of which to be proud, and we can build on our success in this area. In the address I gave upon the completion of my first 100 days at Georgia College, I asked several questions regarding our engagement with the community. Are we engaged in a way that brings the most efficient help to our community? Are we engaged in a way to meet our community’s most pressing problems? Are we using the community as a means to test new ideas and products which might bring value to the marketplace? Can we better engage? These and other questions must be asked and answered by our Georgia College family for us to continue to fulfill our mission and grow as an institution.
The decision to seek elective classification in Community Engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was a natural progression for Georgia College. It is the logical next step in the continuing cycle of evaluation and improvement. Applying for the classification will allow us to document the degree to which community engagement is integrated in the work of our faculty, students, and staff and how we as an institution support and partner with community initiatives through our outreach activities and sharing of institutional resources.
Striving for this classification will not be an easy task. As much as we do in the area of community engagement, there is no guarantee that we will achieve the designation. Going through the process will help us consider ways to improve and will lead us to better focus our efforts as an institution both for the sake of our students and for the benefit of the community. Thanks to each of you for your support of this effort and I commend the task force members for their dedication to the achievement of this worthy goal.
Carnegie Foundation Classification Description
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1906. Since that time, the Carnegie Foundation has been a leader in advancing excellence in the educational mission of higher education in the United States. Since 1970, the Carnegie Foundation has also maintained a classification system that identifies every institution of higher education in the United States by several indicators. However, according the Carnegie Foundation website, “the classification for Community Engagement is an elective classification, meaning that it is based on voluntary participation by institutions. The elective classification involves data collection and documentation of important aspects of institutional mission, identity and commitments, and requires substantial effort invested by participating institutions. It is an institutional classification; it is not for systems of multiple campuses or for part of an individual campus.
The classification is not an award. It is an evidence-based documentation of institutional practice to be used in a process of self-assessment and quality improvement. The documentation is reviewed to determine whether the institution qualifies for recognition as a community engaged institution.”
The evidence that Carnegie requires from institutions seeking the Community Engagement classification touches on almost every aspect of Georgia College’s academic, student, and community outreach operations. The data collection process is complex and requires collaboration among multiple units of the university and between the university and multiple community organizations and agencies. However, Georgia College believes that the process itself is valuable in its own right, regardless of whether it results in a successful application. By thoroughly examining our community engagement activities and partnerships we will identify strengths and areas for improvement and will be in a better position to improve upon our commitment to community engagement.