Westminster College has been named as one of only 115 colleges and universities to be recognized for its focus on community engagement by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Only four Missouri colleges and universities received this recognition.
"Receiving the Carnegie Foundation's 2010 Community Engagement Classification this year is very exciting for our institution and The Emerson Center for Leadership & Service," says Jill Olson, Program Director for Community Engagement and Service-Learning on campus. "It is one thing for a College to commit to service in their mission statement, but Westminster faculty, staff and students are truly committed to serving our local and global community. Not only is the quantity of service and service-learning programs on the rise, but the true quality of them is very notable as well."
Some of the service projects which led to Westminster's selection was the over 10,000 hours of service completed by Westminster faculty, staff and students last year, its yearlong service commitment to the Callaway County United Way, completion of two international service projects in Ethiopia and Pakistan and nearly 20 percent of all campus departments utilizing the service-learning teaching method in their classes.
"Faculty here initiate service-learning courses continually to give our students an additional experiential learning piece to their academic courses," says Olson. "Staff and faculty are also very supportive of and regularly attend fundraising activities and service projects on campus. It is also very remarkable how many of our faculty and staff serve in our community in their spare time. Our students are also very engaged in the community and are consistently seeking new service programs for our campus. It is our student body that helps make our 35-40 community partnerships strong each year."
In order to be selected, applying institutions had to be provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that demonstrated alignment among mission, culture, leadership and practices. This approach enabled The Carnegie Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.
"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 generate socially responsive knowledge to benefit communities," says Carnegie President Anthony Bryk. "We are very pleased with the movement we are seeing in this direction."
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of service learning, the communication and use of this evidence and structured opportunities to build knowledge.