Hobart and William Smith Colleges are honored to be among the 28 baccalaureate colleges selected for the 2010 Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The Colleges received the elective classification in both the areas of Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships; this is the first year institutions must have met the criteria for both in order to be selected.
“Acquiring this designation brings national recognition to the Colleges’ dedication to civic engagement and the enormous efforts in this area on the part of the entire campus,” says Provost and Dean of Faculty Teresa Amott.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are committed to providing students with academic and co-curricular service learning opportunities in Geneva, across the nation and at many study abroad sites. Through such opportunities, students meet identified community needs and engage in service as part of their academic courses and programs, as well as making service an integral part of their lives. The HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), through a program called Compass, helps students become civically engaged, leading to graduates who have a lifelong commitment to justice, social consciousness, and the promotion of continuous, effective change.
Last year, HWS students performed more than 34,000 hours of community service in the City of Geneva alone. They also raised approximately $80,000 in funds that were directed to non-profit organizations.
The selection by Carnegie is one of several designations recently recognizing the Colleges’ commitment to civic engagement and service learning. In 2010, Hobart and William Smith Colleges were named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement, and were ranked No. 17 in the category of “Small Colleges and Universities” on the Peace Corps’ annual rankings of Peace Corps volunteer-producing schools. The Colleges were also named 17th overall among the nation’s liberal arts colleges in the area of service by Washington Monthly in its 2010 “College Guide” rankings.
“The Carnegie Community Engagement classification was an opportunity for us to gather input and various perspectives related to the interactive nature of campus community partnerships. This recognition is a true celebration of the campus commitment to civic engagement and mutually impactful relationships between the Geneva community and Hobart and William Smith Colleges,” says Katie Flowers, director of CCESL. “We didn’t receive this honor because there is one office dedicated to promoting service; we received this recognition because our faculty are committed to the civic development of our students in and beyond the classroom, because our staff collaborate on programming that keeps Geneva at the forefront of conversations, and because our students are hungry to make a difference and become ready to lead lives of consequence.”
Many HWS faculty members build service experiences into their coursework, providing opportunities for rich experiential learning and engagement with the local community. During the first-year orientation, all incoming students participate in a Day of Service, working alongside fellow students and Geneva community members on a variety of community service projects throughout the local area. More than 30 community agencies partner every year with HWS on youth, literacy, environment and civic projects.
The Colleges have also formalized “The Geneva Partnership,” an initiative to forge the strongest possible ties with the community and enhance community life. The Colleges have begun to achieve this goal by working collaboratively with community members. As community organizations and members identify challenges, the Colleges match its assets – student, faculty and staff – in partnership to the project.
Sage Gerling, who serves on the board of the Geneva Community Center, says that the Colleges’ support has been integral to her organization’s success. “With the support of HWS, the Geneva Community Center has been able to fulfill its mission of bringing together the full diversity of Geneva in a safe and welcoming environment, and supporting collaborations and relationships that link organizations, services, neighborhoods, and age groups to enrich the community.”
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching invited colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement to apply for the classification. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an “elective” classification-institutions elected to participate by submitting required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. This approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities. In order to be selected, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.
“Through a classification that acknowledges significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement, the Foundation encourages colleges and universities to become more deeply engaged, to improve teaching and learning and to generate socially responsive knowledge to benefit communities,” said Carnegie President Anthony Bryk. “We are very pleased with the movement we are seeing in this direction.”
This spring, HWS will host a New York Campus Compact roundtable discussion which will convene institutions that have received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification as well as those interested in applying during the next application cycle. Participating institutions will be invited to share best practices relating to programs and collaborations.