Saint Joseph’s College Awarded 2015 Community Engagement Classification from Carnegie Foundation

Saint Joseph’s College is proud to announce that it has been selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its Community Engagement Classification, highlighting the College’s focus on community service throughout its mission and daily interactions on campus and within the local, regional, and global communities.

“This classification reflects the dedication the Saint Joseph’s College community has not just to living our core values, but to providing our students learning experiences that prepare them to be both skilled and compassionate citizens of the world,” says Kimberly Post, Saint Joseph’s director of community-based learning. “As a Sisters of Mercy institution we are altruistic by nature, and the Carnegie classification recognizes this as well as our real-world, community-based approach to teaching and learning.”

Valid until 2025, this is the College’s first time earning the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation. For 2015, the Foundation selected 240 U.S. colleges and universities to receive its Community Engagement Classification. Of this number, 83 institutions are receiving the classification for the first time, while 157 were re-classified, after being classified originally in 2006 or 2008. These 240 institutions join the 121 institutions that earned the classification during the 2010 selection process.

Kimberly Post says the application process for this award took more than two years of research and fact gathering, drawing upon the experience and knowledge from numerous members of the College community, including Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Michael Pardales and President Jim Dlugos. Post examined community engagement in all areas of the institution, from students to faculty and staff.

Students accomplished one of the more distinguished examples of community engagement noted in the application. During the 2012–2013 academic year, 821 students participated in community-based learning as part of their coursework, and 150 students engaged in co-curricular community service. Faculty participation was impressive as well, with 52 on-campus and online faculty integrating community engagement into their curricula.

This Carnegie classification comes just a month after the College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2014. The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, highlights colleges and universities that place students on a lifelong path of civic engagement and their role in solving communities’ struggles.

“It’s important for a Catholic, liberal arts college to educate the whole person,” says President Dlugos. “Part of that education is to break down the walls that separate higher education from the ‘real world.’ Our students learn from their first semester at Saint Joseph’s that they are embarking on an integrated, community-focused education. This Carnegie Foundation recognition demonstrates that this approach to education works and is important. This is a significant day for everyone in the Saint Joseph’s, neighboring, and global communities.”

In its award letter, the Foundation recognized the College’s “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement…. The application also documented evidence of community engagement in a coherent and compelling response to the framework’s inquiry.”

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this was an “elective” classification—institutions participated voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond.

“The importance of this elective classification is borne out by the response of so many campuses that have demonstrated their deep engagement with local, regional, national, and global communities,” says John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”

Among first-time recipients of the classification, 47 are public institutions and 36 are private. The complete list represents campuses in 33 states and U.S. territories, and can be found on the New England Resource Center for Higher Education’s website, nerche.org.  

The Foundation, through the work of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, developed the first typology of American colleges and universities in 1970 as a research tool to describe and represent the diversity of U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (now housed at Indiana University Bloomington's Center for Postsecondary Research) continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers, and others.