Foundation Classification Recognizes Community Engagement, Service Learning
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The University has just been named recipient of a prestigious national honor that ranks it among the nation’s top institutions in the benefits it confers to the world outside its walls.
In announcing its designation of a “community-engaged” university ߞ; one of 119 so named in the country ߞ; the Carnegie Foundation found that UMass Lowell qualified for the honor in two distinct areas: both as a source of curricular (classroom-related) engagement benefiting communities and for its non-academic, community outreach and partnerships. The University of Massachusetts is the only public-university system chosen in which all campuses have received the Carnegie, “community-engaged” designation.
Some examples of the work honored by the Foundation include the University’s assistive technology project, which develops creative solutions to the needs of disabled people; the Memory XL project, a path to working with healthy adults to try to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease; and the Artbotics program, which puts computer technology within reach of women and minorities for the creation of public art.
“This national designation is a great tribute to the values that we honor every day in our teaching, research, and service,” Chancellor Martin T. Meehan said of the Carnegie announcement. “UMass Lowell has a long history of innovative partnerships that have benefited the people in our region as well as our students."
UMass Lowell’s new provost, Ahmed Abdelal, was just as emphatic. “The Carnegie Foundation has certified the excellence of our service learning, industrial partnerships, and urban engagement,” he said. “We are grateful for this distinctive honor that has been earned by our University community."
The Foundation’s’ Community Engagement designation, conferred for the first time in 2006, describes itself as an opportunity to “address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness not represented in the national data.” It was initiated, according to Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk, partly as a means “to encourage other colleges and universities to move in this direction. Doing so brings benefits both to the community and to the institution involved."
The UMass team responsible for generating the Carnegie application, an extensive process that consumed several months, drew its members from across the full range of the University community. Paul Marion, executive director of community relations, directed the application process. Other team members included Project Manager Patricia Coffey; Nursing Asst. Professor Lisa Abdallah; Judith Boccia, director of the Office of School Partnerships; Robin Toof, assistant director of the Center for Family, Work and Community; and Linda Barrington, campus coordinator for SLICE (Service Learning Integrated Throughout the College of Engineering).
Other contributors included Prof. Stephanie Chalupka, formerly with the College of Nursing; Prof. Linda Silka, director of the Center for Family, Work and Community, Public Affairs staff member Morgan Hough and student assistant Devonne Sutton.
“This designation is a tremendous honor for the students, faculty and staff at UMass Lowell,” Marion said. “It puts us in ‘Division One’ nationally with respect to community engagement.”