In an era of national uneasiness and widespread public distrust, civic and legislative leaders around the nation are turning to universities for t heir help, renewing calls reminiscent of the 1960's for information and solutions to pressing societal problems. The same leaders, however, also are concerned about what they see as mismatches between university missions and the needs of communities. They are questioning universitiesespecially publicly-supported universitiesabout ever-increasing costs at a time when many other agencies and institutions are being forced to downsize. They also are asking for meaningful measures of accountability an d evidence of both willingness and determination to focus on and become involved with local constituencies.
University of Washington President Richard L. McCormick's establishment of the Task Force on University Public Service and Outreach signa led his intention to focus UW's attention on these issues. His charge letter and discussions with the Task Force directed it to consider:
While the University of Washington has only recently become engaged in the evolving "national conversation" on this topic, our Task Force's examination of the University's public service and outreach activities has led to:
To facilitate our work, the Task Force adopted the following five definitions. However, the history of specific service and outreach activities, changes in the sources of support over time, and a number of other issues make it extremely difficult to classify activities neatly into one category or another. Many activities can be viewed as public service and outreach, or as public service in the initial stages and later as outreach, or they might be one or the other depending on the mission of the unit providing them. The Task Force recognizes that the campus community's use of service-rela ted terms is evolving but still inconsistent, and we expect that subsequent discussions will lead to more broadly shared, more consistent usage. The Task Force has agreed:
The Task Force agreed that the following two types of service and outreach, institutional and professional, are very important to careers of faculty and staff, should be encouraged and rewarded, and are considered in performance evaluations. However, we agreed that for the purposes of this Task Force, they are outside of our charge.
The fifth category of community service is personal, and is not considered in University performance evaluations, and also is outside the charge of the Task Force.
The Task Force's review of the University's forms on which faculty
service, outreach, professional service, and consulting;
interviews with unit leaders;
and hearings and focus groups indicate that
faculty, staff, and students a t the University
of Washington are
intensively and extensively
engaged in a wide range of public
service and outreach activities which are integral to the teaching and
research missions of
the institution.1 Activities cross
disciplinary boundaries, occurring within
professional schools and
colleges, departments across Arts and Sciences, and the Health Sciences.
They involve faculty students and staff, with students frequently
completing internships/clinical rotations, or meeting class requirements through their
public service and outreach
The School of Nursing, for example, provides all its undergraduates with community health care clinical experience in southe ast Seattle while the Business Economic Development Program involves teams of students and faculty working with owners of inner city businesses to provide assistance on accounting, financial analysis and other areas of business management. The Law Sc hool has seven clinics in criminal law, employment law, child advocacy, refugee advocacy, affordable housing, immigration, and mediation, in which students are required to donate 50 hours of work before graduation. Each of the other professional schools and colleges also has faculty, staff and students involved in community settings. For example, Social Work has students involved in nearly 300 different human service and health care settings statewide, and Public Affairs through the training for Interprofessional Collaboration project (TIC) fields "interprofessional" teams in a number of collaborative settings throughout the Puget Sound region. College of Education faculty and many other University faculty are engaged in extensive collaborations with Seattle Public Schools. For example, faculty are working with Seattle Public Schools (and districts in four other states) to give more power and discretion over budgetary decisions to individual principals and site-based community groups in return for higher performance levels. Architecture and Urban Planning partners with community-based groups to create "environmental learning centers" and rehabilitate parks and public buildings. The Institute for Public Policy and Management offers public forums to educate the public and facilitate broad public debate on significant policy issues.
There is also a wide range of continuing education courses enrolling over 100,000 students annually. An increasing number of units provide resources through Internet communication, especially through award-winning Web sites. The Medical School, for example, has a medical hot line on the Internet which provides information to physicians statewide. Among the departments in Arts and Sciences, the sciences appear to be most involved in the community, bringing their expertise to schools and community groups on such topics as the Human Genome Project, chemistry and math. The University Library serves many thousands of non student residents every year. University theatrical, dramatic, and sporting events are open to the public. University relations, UWTV and KUOW reach many thousands through their publications, broadcasts, and speakers bureaus.
While extremely difficult to quantify precisely3, UW public service and outreach activities are valued in excess of $10-$20 million. (Some estimate as high as $100 million if UW hospitals are included in services to the public.) Many of these services and activities are supported by funds awarded through federal and foundation grants and contracts, bringing significant additional resources to the state benefiting the local economy4, as well as enhancing UW research efforts and financial aid for students. (President McCormick recently noted that on a biennial basis, the University generates approximately $3 billion of economic activity to the region.)
At the same time, traditionally most of the public service and outreach efforts at the University are not well known even within the University, and have not served strategic purposes for the entire institution. They tend to have been initiated by individuals or units for the benefit of specific external groups, with their aggregate impact not necessarily visible on campus, let alone beyond the campus. For example, the children's dental clinic in Yakima and Toppenish facilities, the Seismology Lab or the Marine Labs at Friday Harbor, and the activities associated with the million-dollar-a-year outreach program of this Washington Sea Grant, such as the revitalization of two communities' waterfronts (Raymond and South Fork), all provide valuable services to people and communities at a considerable distance from the ca mpus, and much of the campus community is unaware of them. Further, the level and nature of UW involvement with the community has depended primarily on individual or administrative leadership within the various units and rarely has been initiated or rewarded by the central leadership of the University.
Both the University of Washington and the State can benefit significantly more from the investments in public service and outreach if they are strategic, focused, and communicated more effectively.
While emphasizing continued high quality education and research, the Task Force believes a more proactive, strategic institutional position on integrating public service and outreach with teaching and research, far from being a distraction, can enhance their excellence and bring substantial additional benefits to the University, including added leveraging of University's resources, and better public understanding and appreciation for the institution as a whole.
Thus, the overall goal of the recommendations contained in this report is to increase the accountability of the University by enabling it to facilitate public service and outreach in a manner which is more re sponsive to diverse communities of the State of Washington. The Task Force believes that implementing its recommendations will achieve this goal and will contribute to more fully realizing the value of the entire University to the society of which it is a part. We expect that this will create new roles for faculty, staff, student research and service-learning, representing enormous scholarly opportunities for the University of Washington of the 21st Century. At the same time, engaging in these op portunities can enable UW to model institutional civic behavior; to support a habit of civic responsibility already well developed among some faculty, staff and students; and to encourage it among others.
Appointed by President Richard M cCormick in March 1996, (see Appendix 1 for Charge Letter and membership) the Task Force has addressed the issues stated above in its full report: With Community Partners: Building Washington's Future. On the basis of our findings , the Task Force makes three action recommendations to the President and his staff, and outlines a set of strategic implementation steps and structures.
This policy should:
The articulation, dissemination and discussions of such a policy are expected to lead to cultural change in the University community with respect to public servi ce and outreach. (See Recommendation 1, detailed discussion and implementation steps on pages 15-18 in the full report.)
Within the UW campus, this includes University-wide and unit-level discussions which should include, at a minimum:
In terms of its external audiences, the Task Force believes it is essential for the UW to develop mechanisms to facilitate two-way communication that allow the broader community to inform the University of critical issues and perspectives that are key to improving our understanding and responsiveness to these constituencies. (See Recommendation 2, detailed discussion and implementation ste ps on pages 18-23 in the report.)
The Task Force understands that many University units, faculty, staff, and students are engaged in public service and outreach benefiting constituencies regionally, nationally, and internationally. We urge the University leadership actively to acknowledge, encourage and reward them. Further, we know that most in the University serve their departments and the UW on committees, and many also serve their professional associations. We believe that this work also must continue and that it should be officially recognized and rewarded.
However, the Task Force was asked to make recommendations about how the University could strategically focus its public service and outreach activities to more effectively fulfill its role as an institutional citizen and demonstrate its accountability. We have concluded that going beyond the status quo requires a different focus. Our recommendation is for a strategic focus on public service and outreach activities which highlight, strengthen, and expand partnerships within the State. Further, we recommend packaging several implementation steps into an identifiable, thematic, easily communicated, ongoing program of activity.
Therefore, we urge the following strategic implementation steps and structures.
1. Highlight University-Community partnerships serving Washington institutions and citizens with the theme: "With Community Partners: Building Washington's Future."
Establish a unifying theme for a set of University public service and outreach activities, tentatively entitled "With Community Partners: Building Washington's Future" that would focus and integrate a cohesive approach to UW public service and outreach in the State, and which would reflect discussions with diverse constituencies. This conceptual theme would make clear the University's commitment to accountability by effectively focusing current resources and leveraging additional ones through public service and outreach activities which are integrated with research and teaching. At the same time, it would demonstrate the University's intent to participate as a full partner with other Washington stakeholders in defining and shaping the issues that will determine the future of our State.
The Building Washington's Future concept can serve as an organizing mechanism for several of the specifically recommended activities found in the body of the Task Force report, including:
2. If it is to be effective, Building Washington's Future requires the establishment of a small, proactive, permanent Public Service and Outreach Advisory Council to be appointed by the President for staggered and limited terms of service. Initially, it should include representation from the Task Force and other faculty members. This Council, because of the importance of integrating public service and outreach into teaching and research, and because of new priority in faculty and administrative evaluations, should report to the Provost. The Council should represent the diversity of the University community and should be responsible for:
The Advisory Council should be led by its Chair (a senior faculty member who is appointed by the Provost and has course reductions similar to University Senate officers) and supported by a permanent, senior professional staff Director and student assistants, with the necessary budgetary support to ensure that the Council functions both efficiently and effectively. The Director should be able to command the respect and cooperation of senior faculty. In light of the University's public service and outreach priority, these varied tasks will require resources which we believe are minimal in comparison to the magnitude of the expected benefits gained from a strong and pro-active Council that will support faculty and administrative unit-level activities.
3. Establish a Public Service and Outreach Roundtable that would serve as a forum for discussions among faculty, staff, and students engaged in public service and outreach activities. This voluntary organization should be open to any member of the University community willing to participate, and should serve as a venue to address topics such as "best practices," the University's role as a partner with the broader community, and opportunities to integrate research, service-learning, and public service. It should further act as a resource for the Advisory Councilon the implementation of these recommendations.
Because Building Washington's Future calls for a change in the status quo and for shifts in the University culture with respect to public service and outreach, the Task Force believes a strategic approach will require an investment of administrative leadership, time and money, especially in the initial stages. However, we also believe that what we are proposing will be attractive to the State Legislature and that local corporations and foundations will be willing to co-sponsor many of the activities. Evidence from other states suggests that this will be the case.
Specifically, the Task Force recommends the Advisory Council be established first to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
During the first year, the Advisory Council should:
During the second year, the project should continue first year activities and add remaining elements of the program, e.g., the Partnership Pool and the Fund for Research on Community Partnerships. This staggered implementation plan will provide important visibility for initial activities while delaying full implementation costs.
The Task Force wishes to note that other successful, focused public service and outreach programs are more expensive, and with visible, sustained University support have quickly attracted external funds. For example, the Great Cities project at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was initially guaranteed support from internal University funds, but word of the project was so welcomed by the Illinois Legislature, that it received partial temporary funding from the State the first year, and full permanent funding the second year. In addition, after 5 year s, it has attracted significant external funding. See the Budget Outline below and the Budget Discussion on pages 32-35 in the report.
The University of Washington is strategically poised to move strongly, swiftly, and elegantly into the 21st Century as a national leader in higher education as well as an effective partner with the communities state, local, regional, and beyond of which it is a member. The Task Force looks forward and stands ready to work with the University leadership to make this vision a reality.
1 Examples are scattered throughout the full report, and detailed in the appendices. (return to text.)
2 Many of the UW's public service and outr each activities directly benefit the Seattle Public Schools and other school districts in the State. See the 1996 directory of such services. (return to text.)
3 Several previous attempts to assess the monetary value of public service and outreach have not been successful, including a recent one in when the University contracted with a well-known accounting firm to make such and assessment. The only measures available currently are judged by the Task Force to be dramatic underestimates, incomplete and unreliable. About 30% of the faculty do not complete 1461 forms, including many faculty who perform significant public service, many citing confusion over the directions. Further, information on significant public service and outreach performed by professional and classified staff is not collected. Student service, as volunteers or as part of class assignments is not reported or aggregated unless it is arranged by the Carlson Office. A chart of "funds spent on public service and outreach" by the AAU Universities grossly underestimates UW expenditures because it includes only the sum of amounts in funded research budgets designated in an "outreach" category. (return to text.)
4 State support for the University represents 18% of the total budget. It is estimated that external funding and activities of the UW generates approximately $3 billion of economic activity per biennium. (President's luncheon address to the University's Visiting Committees on Jan. 31, 1997.) (return to text.)
|Element||Year 1||Year 2||Total|
Materials for unit-level discussions
| Public Service Directory &|
|Printing of Directory||$50,000||$0||$50,000|
|Community Partnership Pool||$50,000||$500,000||$550,000|
|Fund for Research on Community Partnerships||$ 0||$300,000||$300,000|
Service and Outreach Advisory Council |
(Including Director & Student/staff support)
|Public Service & Outreach Roundtable||$ 5,000||$5,000||$10,000|
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