Carnegie Foundation reaffirms UMSL’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

by | Feb 3, 2020

UMSL was one of 119 institutions in 2020 to receive the elective designation, indicating its institutional commitment to community engagement.
Community Engagement

Local contractor Tii Young, president of Impressive Work Construction Firm, speaks at an Engaging Local Business event at the J.C. Penney Conference Center. Events such as those are just one of the ways UMSL reaches out to connect with the community. (Photo by Steve Walentik)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis works in many ways to improve the lives of people beyond its campus borders and across the St. Louis region.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching affirmed UMSL’s success toward that end, naming it as one of the 119 U.S. colleges and universities in 2020 to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement.

Carnegie Community Engagement ClassificationUMSL first received the classification in 2010.

“UMSL is entwined in the community in so many ways,” Interim Chancellor and Provost Kristin Sobolik said. “We educate St. Louis and are the largest workforce driver in the region. Our faculty engage in research and knowledge generation that helps our community meet today’s challenges. And we collaborate with other community partners to maximize our collective impact for the good of all of the region and Missouri.”

“The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is validation of the work that we are doing,” said Patricia Zahn, UMSL’s director of community outreach and engagement. “It’s also an opportunity and challenge for us to continue to think about who we are in our community, and how we serve our community and make a better place to live for all of us.”

The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

“These newly-classified and re-classified institutions are doing exceptional work to forward their public purpose in and through community engagement that enriches teaching and research while also benefiting the broader community,” said Mathew Johnson, executive director of the Swearer Center.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years with multiple classification cycles in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2020. UMSL is one of 359 campuses that actively hold the designation, including 19 members of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. There were 240 institutions that earned the designation during the Carnegie Foundation’s selection process in 2015.

Zahn helped lead a committee of people gathering information to support UMSL’s application for re-classification.

The application spoke to new community-connected initiatives the university has undertaken in the past decade, including the construction of the UMSL Patient Care Center, the Great Streets Project to redevelop Natural Bridge Road near campus, the work of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health focused on health and well-being statewide, economic development efforts focused on north St. Louis County and work with area school districts such as Jennings and Normandy. That’s in addition to the long-standing work of community-focused endowed faculty members who are part of the Des Lee Collaborative Vision.

Several community partners, including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Zoo, Girls Inc., the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Ameren and Express Scripts, were asked to fill out a survey to support UMSL’s classification attesting to the university engagement efforts throughout the region.

“It is clear that many campuses are facing difficult times and finding it challenging to maintain and advance their community engagement in the current climate,” Johnson said. “It is our hope that by celebrating these classified campuses others might come to see community engagement as part of the strategy to address the current set of challenges in higher education.”

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik