By Linda Coutant
Of the more than 3,000 four-year, degree granting institutions in the U.S., only 361 hold the “community engagement” classification by the Carnegie Foundation. Appalachian State University first achieved this designation in 2008, and recently received continued classification until 2025.
“This designation corresponds with Appalachian’s essential character and the value placed on the university’s commitment to our community,” said Chancellor Sheri N. Everts.
“Civic and community engagement provides critical opportunities for personal and professional growth, helps make our community and state stronger, aligns with the UNC system’s mission for each campus to make real and powerful differences through community partnerships and service, and supports a lifelong understanding of the valuable service roles each of us can fulfill within our communities,” Everts said.
Community engagement is defined as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
In addition to Appalachian, 11 other UNC system schools hold the community engagement classification. The elective classification followed an eight-month self-assessment and review of materials submitted by a working group comprised of campus and community stakeholders.
Appalachian’s community engagement classification is based on its curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships activities. Examples include:
According to the Carnegie Foundation, the purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.
Student-focused community engagement activities are directed through the university’s Civic Engagement Program based in University College and led by Dr. Brian MacHarg, director of Academic Civic Engagement.
“Appalachian has long been a national leader in service-learning and engaged pedagogies,” said Dr. Mike Mayfield, vice provost for undergraduate education. “The Carnegie Foundation has recognized our participation in a critical and productive two-way dialogue between our campus and the community at large. We look forward to ongoing conversations on this campus and beyond on ways to continue that role in ways that support student learning and success.”
1+ million hours of service performed in the local community between 2004 and 2016
$22.3 million of value contributed to the community by students between 2004 and 2016 (using the $23.07 per hour national standard for volunteer time)
Nearly 100 courses in service-learning and community-based research offered on campus each year
160+ local non-profit partners