Carnegie distinction

Tufts recognized for embracing community engagement

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Tufts for its new Community Engagement Classification, which was created in December to recognize colleges and universities that have institutionalized community engagement in their mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.

Tufts, which also holds the foundation’s highest classification for research activity, was honored for its community-related teaching and scholarship, as well as its outreach and partnerships.

Unlike the foundation’s other classifications, which rely on national data, the new Community Engagement Classification is voluntary. Institutions were invited to submit documentation detailing the various ways in which they collaborate with their larger communities.

“It was a very comprehensive process that required a lot of work and input from people across the university,” Dawn Geronimo Terkla, executive director of institutional research at Tufts, said about the application process. “It required us to gather information from all of the schools to document their community-related programs.”

Of 88 applicants, 76 U.S. institutions were recognized for their work in one of two areas: curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships. Some, including Tufts, excelled in both.

Among the highlights for Tufts are the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, which supports the entire university in promoting the values and skills of active citizenship; curriculum development grants for faculty who seek to integrate new models of active citizenship into their teaching; the Cummings School’s Wildlife Medicine Program, which gives students hands-on experience in wildlife and conservation biology; and the Tufts Dental Facilities for Persons with Special Needs, a system of eight clinics across Massachusetts that serve patients with mild to severe disabilities.

Carnegie Foundation President Lee S. Shulman said that the colleges and universities selected for the new classification should serve as examples for other institutions. “The campuses participating in this elective classification provide useful models of engagement around teaching and learning and around research agendas that benefit from collaborative relationships,” Shulman said. “Finding new and better ways to connect with their communities should be a high priority for higher education institutions today.”