USU Earns Prestigious Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Utah State University has been awarded the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, the highest level of recognition for community engagement. 

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized USU with the designation, which reflects “exemplary institutionalized practices” for community engagement at all 33 campuses and centers. In 2017-18 alone, USU forged 1,465 campus-community partnerships, ranging from classroom-based community-engaged learning to large-scale funded research.  

“Community engagement is an important component of USU, so we have prioritized our partnerships with organizations and municipalities across Utah,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. “Meaningful community partnerships involve a commitment to strengthening the bonds between campus and community. We are proud of the systems and processes we have built that help us reach every corner of the state.”

The designation is the Carnegie Foundation’s only elective classification, meaning it requires a voluntary application by institutions. The process is similar to accreditation and is reviewed by a national panel to determine institutional merit. USU is one of 359 institutions currently holding the classification. 

As Utah’s land-grant institution, USU places community engagement at the center of its mission to serve the public through learning, discovery, and engagement. USU’s statewide system features eight campuses and 23 education centers, which serve all counties in Utah through Cooperative Extension programs. 

“This rigorous application process enabled USU to define and create a culture of meaningful and pervasive community engagement across all campuses,” said USU Provost Francis Galey.

Throughout Utah, USU has forged partnerships that respond directly to community-identified needs. One example is USU Moab’s nonprofit funding information network, established in response to requests from approximately 100 Moab-based nonprofit organizations. 

Similarly, in Escalante, more than 400 AmeriCorps members have engaged with the Escalante River Watershed Partnership in a multi-year, multi-agency restoration project, restoring and maintaining the ecological conditions of the river and its watershed. In Logan, approximately 475 students have been involved with the Logan River Restoration project, which drew broad stakeholder interest and resulted in a conservation plan for the area. 

“The city of Logan congratulates USU on their recognition,” said Logan Mayor Holly Daines.“This selection reinforces what we all know: Utah State gives back to the community in many important ways. Most recently, the River Restoration Task Force has been instrumental in a number of projects that will greatly benefit the citizens of our community. We appreciate our valued partnerships with the university.”

Other community partnerships in Cache Valley include the Cache Refugee Immigrant Connection, Stokes Nature Center, local schools, government housing entities and many others.

As part of the university’s mission to develop citizen scholars, USU students enjoy opportunities to integrate meaningful community engagement into their classroom learning. Over one year, 8,547 students across 31 departments participated in community-engaged learning courses.  

One such opportunity was developed in collaboration with the Ute Tribe, where one in 10 Native Americans has diabetes. Over the past seven years, approximately 280 USU nutrition students have worked with USU Extension and Painted Horse Diabetes Prevention Program to deliver health and wellness programs in partnership with Uintah and Ouray community members.

“USU has been working toward the Carnegie classification since 2016. The process gave USU a common language and shared institutional goal to not only obtain the classification, but also to deepen and improve partnerships across all campuses in ways that encourage reciprocity, community voice and mutual benefit,” said Kate Stephens, associate director of USU Center for Community Engagement and co-chair of Carnegie writing team. 

USU’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was established in 2013 with a mission to develop active citizens through community engagement and scholarship. More information on CCE can be found at https://www.usu.edu/communityengagement/.