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Loyola seeks community engagement distinction

July 16, 2010

Loyola University New Orleans is more than halfway through its application for designation as a “Community Engagement” university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, according to Heather Mack, Loyola’s community engagement research coordinator.

Carnegie classifies universities and colleges into general categories based on enrollment and degree data. Loyola is classified as “Masters L,” which means it is a master’s level college awarding a large amount of master’s degrees – more than 200 a year.

“Recently the Carnegie Foundation added some elective categories to provide a richer description of each university,” said Kelly Brotzman, director of service learning, who is helping with the application process. Community engagement is one of the new categories.

“In the spring, the Office of the Provost decided to seek this elite classification,” Brotzman said. She said many of Loyola’s peer institutions have already earned the community engagement classification. “Our Jesuit peers and reference institutions are showing great interest in this classification. It would be a great distinction for Loyola.”

Carnegie defines community engagement as describing “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

What this means, Brotzman said, is that Carnegie wants to recognize colleges with a “campus-wide culture of reaching out to the community and building mutually beneficial relationships.”

A Carnegie Community Engagement Committee was formed on campus under the direction of Brotzman and Scott Porot, Jesuit Center fellow, to gather the information needed for the application with Mack.

“The faculty and staff who agreed to serve on this committee have been incredible,” Mack said. “They have been huge fountains of information and have been excited to learn more about the great work the university is doing.”

Mack said one of the highlights of the process for her has been learning just how important community engagement is at Loyola.

“Loyola is doing so much with our partners in the community” she said. “As more of what we do with and for the community comes out, well, it’s been enlightening for me to watch all this come together.”

The first half of the application process consisted of gathering information on institutional support for community engagement. Committee members pored over budgets and talked with deans and faculty.

“Now, we are making a more specific inventory of the community-oriented activities and programs at Loyola,” she said. “This includes what we are doing at Loyola and how we are assessing the impact of our community engagement efforts.” The committee is looking at service learning, outreach, clubs and organizations, community-based research by faculty members, internships, and much more, she said. “Pretty much every way possible we connect with our larger community is being examined,” she said. “And we do that a lot here.”

The application will be submitted by Sept. 1, Mack said. The Carnegie Foundation will review applications and make final decisions in December 2010. Committee members include: Al Alcazar, Amy Boyle, Andy Canegitta, Angie Hoffer, Annie Goldman, Beth Coyne, Brett Simpson, Cathy Simoneaux, Cindy Caire, Craig Beebe, David Gunn, David Robinson-Morris, Don Boomgaarden, George Capowich, Heather Mack, JoAnn Moran-Cruz, Josh Daly, Kelly Brotzman, Laura Beatty, Laurie Phillips, Leigh Gutierrez, Leslie Parr, Luis Miron, Nate Straight, Petrice Sams-Abiodun, Ramona Fernandez, Scott Porot, Sean Snyder, Shon Cowan Baker and Tony Decuir.

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