PSU nationally recognized for work in community engagement

Portland State has been awarded the 2015 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for their mission to “Let knowledge serve the city.” This classification designates PSU as a nation-wide leader in community engagement.

PSU was among the first universities and colleges to be given this classification when it became available in 2006, and the current designation will remain in effect for 10 years. To qualify for classification, institutions are required to fill out an application and provide documentation of their work with community partners.

“PSU was one of the first institutions to be part of this,” said Sona Andrews, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “They just had another round of re-applications, so that’s why we are promoting now—or reminding people that we are one of the institutions that they’ve designated to be a community engaged institution.”

Erin Flynn, Associate Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, said, “We have universities coming from all over the country to visit us, to learn about how we do community engagement, and part of the reason they know about us is because of our Carnegie classification.”

According to the Carnegie Foundation’s website, “community engagement describes 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.”

“I think [community engagement] is one of the cornerstones and hallmarks of [PSU],” said Seanna Kerrigan, Capstone Program Director. “Especially with the Senior Capstone as a graduation requirement, it’s imperative that we link our academic course content with our community and enhance the student’s learning as a result of it.”

PSU’s degree system requires that students work with community partners in order to graduate. These relationships and partnerships set PSU apart from other urban universities in regards to community engagement, according to Flynn.

“If you come to PSU for your education, you’re really getting true, hands-on, real world experience,” Flynn said. “So if you’re interested in a particular subject or want to go into a specific major, you’re not just getting book learning, you’re also getting applied learning.”

According to the Carnegie Foundation’s website, 188 colleges and universities who received the classification between 2006 and 2008 were eligible for re-classification this year. Of those, 157 were reclassified and an additional 83 schools were added for the first time. These 240 schools joined 121 schools that received the classification in 2010, making a total of 361 schools across the nation classified for the 2015 cycle.

“I hope [the classification] will continue to give us the prestige and recognition that we deserve in this area nationally,” Andrews said. “Urban institutions have great advantages and PSU is among the nationally recognized.”