UW News

January 31, 2020

University of Washington selected for 2020 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification

UW News

The University of Washington today announced that its three campuses in Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma have received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement.

This important classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

“Learning with and from our communities is embedded in the UW’s public service mission and a huge part of our faculty and staff’s work and our students’ learning experiences,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “It’s not easy to capture those complex relationships in a ranking or statistic, so the Carnegie application process allows us to reflect on and assess our true impact and honestly evaluate the ways in which community engagement is central to our institutional identity. For our Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses to have earned the classification is a wonderful reflection of who we are.”

Receiving this classification puts into focus that the work of a public research university begins at home, in neighborhoods, in the state and in the region.

Writing in support of the assessment process in February 2019, UW Regent Constance W. Rice said: “The power of UW is multiplied by its capacity to generate new knowledge not only in service to the public good but in partnership with its communities. UW has global impact precisely because its faculty, its staff and its students see themselves as accountable to communities across the globe.”

Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, explained the designation.

“UW faculty, students and staff work in partnership with local organizations to address some of the stubbornly persistent problems that impact citizens of our state, such as public health and safety, homelessness, inequities in education and in our communities,” he said. “Our communities matter.”

The three core entities of the UW’s mission — teaching, research and service — are all equally important and inspire our intention to serve the public good, Taylor said.

“This is core to the work of our students as we teach them to be effective and engaged citizens. It’s important to the work of our faculty for whom research and service go hand in hand,” he said.

The assessments across each of the three campuses identified hundreds of examples of partnerships that embody the definition of community engagement that the Carnegie Foundation puts forth.

For example, Communities in Action, a School of Social Work sponsored initiative, partners in Southeast and Central Seattle, neighborhoods where 59 languages are spoken. Many families in these areas have low household incomes and young people commonly face numerous obstacles to achieving success in and out of school. Born out of community priorities and adapting to meet ever-shifting community needs, Communities in Action leverages the evidence-based Communities that Care model to promote healthy behaviors and prevent the most persistent social problems among young people before they begin.

In more rural areas, Jody Early, an associate professor, and Victoria Breckwich Vásquez, an affiliate assistant professor, both in the UW Bothell School of Nursing & Health Studies, helped develop a training program to prevent sexual harassment in agriculture. They worked with public health students through the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center and with a group that included more than 70 farmworkers. Early and Breckwich Vásquez produced a training video that was recorded in a Yakima Valley orchard. There is a large demand for the training, said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League.

In the South Sound, a collaboration between Joint Base Lewis-McChord and UW Tacoma provides transition opportunities for soldiers and airmen departing from the military and moving into civilian life. In addition, UW Tacoma partners with the base and its command structure on initiatives that result in it being a better place for local military members and their families to live, work, play and learn. Almost 20% of the UW Tacoma student body is military-connected: veterans, active-duty, or family of active-duty.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years with multiple classification cycles in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2020. Of the 119 institutions classified in the 2020 cycle, 44 are receiving the classification for the first time while 75 are now re-classified, after being classified originally in 2010 or 2015. These 119 institutions join the 240 institutions that earned the classification during the 2015 selection process, for a total of 359 campuses who are currently active holders of this important designation.

The UW’s three campuses join other Washington universities in achieving the distinction, including Washington State University, Western Washington University, Gonzaga University, Whitworth University and Seattle University. Classified institutions have the opportunity to reclassify every six years by showing how their community engagement work has deepened and broadened across the campus. The UW already is capitalizing on the assessments to build on its community-engaged research, teaching and service, paving the way for greater impact in the years to come.