Writer: Amanda Bradford, 575-646-1976, firstname.lastname@example.org
From backyard gardens to high-tech laboratories, in classrooms, clinics and kitchens, New Mexico State University’s faculty, staff, students and others are involved in programs and partnerships that benefit communities across New Mexico.
In recognition of its institutional commitment to serving these communities, NMSU has been selected to receive a 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said the classification is an important acknowledgement of the tremendous effort put in every day by faculty, staff, students and administrators who work to improve the lives of all New Mexicans and make a difference on a national and global scale, which is a cornerstone of the university’s land-grant mission.
“New Mexico State University is a caring community, and that community extends well beyond our campus,” Carruthers said. “We’re conducting research with significant real-world impact, providing training opportunities to everyone from working ranchers to newly elected government officials, and partnering with our public schools, the health care industry, our Native American population, entrepreneurs and many others.
“We’re listening to and working with New Mexicans in communities across the state,” he added.
NMSU is one of 361 colleges and universities nationwide ¬– and the only one in New Mexico – to carry the Community Engagement Classification, and one of 47 public institutions receiving it for the first time in 2015.
NMSU is also classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research University – High Research Activity institution, as measured by research expenditures, number of research doctorates awarded, number of research-focused faculty and other factors.
Unlike the foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, the Community Engagement Classification is an “elective” classification ¬– NMSU and other institutions participated voluntarily by submitting required materials 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.
“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,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, which administers the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”
In order to be selected, institutions were required to develop an extensive application, providing descriptions and examples of institutionalized community engagement practices that demonstrated alignment among mission, culture, leadership and resources.
Carruthers credited Vice President for Economic Development Kevin Boberg and his staff for knitting together quantitative data from the Office of Institutional Analysis, stories culled from those written by University Communications, and lessons learned through interviews across campus into the application. In addition to these sources of information, he said, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Christa Slaton’s experience pursuing the Community Engagement Classification during her time at Auburn University was beneficial to the application’s self-study process.
As New Mexico’s land-grant institution, Carruthers said, NMSU’s mission is focused on preparing educated and engaged citizens while identifying and addressing needs in the community, a tradition founded in programs such as the Cooperative Extension Service, but now spanning colleges and units across the university and beyond the classroom. It’s a back-and-forth exchange of ideas and tools from a wide spectrum of disciplines and services that connects the campus with the broader community – to the benefit of both, he said.
In its application for the classification, NMSU provided the Carnegie Foundation with information about its partnership efforts in these areas across all disciplines, from work in rural communities to highly specialized scientific research.
“All of us at NMSU – students, staff, partners, communities and faculty – should be very proud that the Carnegie Foundation agreed that our work here at NMSU is a top example of institutional commitment to community engagement,” Carruthers said, “but this is an ongoing process. We’re focused on continuing to strengthen those community bonds and forging new ones all the time.”
NMSU’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is valid until 2025, at which time the university will seek re-classification through a similar application process.
A listing of the institutions that hold the Community Engagement Classification can be found on the New England Resource Center for Higher Education website, nerche.org.
For more information about the Carnegie Foundation, visit carnegiefoundation.org.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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