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Loyola seeks community engagement distinction

September 3, 2010

Loyola University New Orleans has filed 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. The application deadline was Sept. 1.

“We have a strong, compelling application,” Mack said. “Loyola embodies the spirit of this Community Engagement classification. This was a campus-wide effort every step of the way.”

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 has been 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 other institutions have already earned the community engagement classification. “Our Jesuit peers and reference institutions are showing a growing interest in this classification. It would be a great distinction for Loyola.”

Carnegie defines community engagement as “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 with people and groups outside the university.”

“Loyola is doing so much with our partners in the community, in New Orleans and around the world,” she said. “It was enlightening for me to watch this all come together. As I learned more about what we do with and for the community, it was impressive.”

A Carnegie Community Engagement Committee has met regularly since April 2010 under the direction of Brotzman, the committee chair, and Mack, the facilitator.

The first half of the application process consisted of gathering information on institutional support for community engagement. The second half of the process had the committee looking at service learning, outreach, clubs and organizations, community-based research by faculty members, internships, and much more, she said.

The Carnegie Foundation will review applications and make final decisions in December.

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