Saint Mary’s Earns National Recognition for Community Engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
This distinction is awarded to educational institutions for outstanding work in addressing societal responsibilities and service. It’s a recognition of aligning mission, culture, and leadership in the Gael community.
Saint Mary’s has received national recognition for living out its mission of service from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In a news release made public on January 8, the foundation announced that SMC is one of a select group of institutions that earn designation in the 2024 Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. This honor is presented by the foundation in collaboration with the American Council on Education
This distinction is awarded to educational institutions for outstanding community engagement in the following areas of partnership between higher education institutions and the public and private sectors: scholarship; research; creative activity while enhancing curriculum; teaching; and learning as students are prepared and encouraged to be educated and engaged citizens of society.
“This recognition is a point of pride, it’s a point of honor, and a point of recognition that we’ve been doing meaningful work in the community across all departments across campus, and really making those experiences happen in the community and for our students.”
“This recognition is a point of pride, it’s a point of honor, and a point of recognition that we’ve been doing meaningful work in the community across all departments across campus, and really making those experiences happen in the community and for our students,” said Sarah Beth Dempsey, SMC’s Director of Community Engaged Learning and Research.
Dempsey also noted that the recognition comes out of an assessment of the past decade of community engagement across campus, so it is also a reflection of the breadth and depth of Saint Mary’s commitment. “This affirms what we’ve been doing,” she said. “To be externally recognized is huge. And to be recognized by our peers is a pretty big deal.”
A reflection of mission, culture, and leadership
Saint Mary’s is one of 368 institutions that have been recognized by the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. The honor reflects the ways in which SMC has engaged with community partners, built on community assets, and addressed a wide array of community challenges.
“There is much to celebrate, and it is heartening to see this level of commitment and activity,” said a message from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The foundation lauded Saint Mary’s “documented excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”
Pride and wow
Saint Mary’s College has long been known for instilling in students a “deep responsibility to improve the world,” in the words of the seminal guidebook Colleges That Change Lives. With this national recognition for community engagement, the College is being honored for just that.
The timing of the recognition also comes as Saint Mary’s prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) on campus. For a quarter century, CILSA has been at the forefront of SMC’s broad-based community engagement efforts.
“This community engagement classification is yet another affirmation of the long-term investments that Saint Mary’s has made in community-benefitting practices across campus and with our partner organizations,” said Jennifer Pigza, Director of CILSA.
“There’s a lot of pride and a lot of ‘Wow!’ in what Saint Mary’s has been able to do as a higher education institution,” Pigza said.
The importance of community engagement
The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee. The classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in US higher education since 2006. Saint Mary’s first earned this recognition in 2008.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was established in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress as an independent policy and research center called to “do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold, and dignify the profession of the teacher and the cause of higher education.” Today the mission of the foundation is to catalyze transformational change in education so that every student has the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life.
The American Council on Education (ACE), which collaborates with the foundation on presenting the classification, is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. ACE has played a major role in shaping higher education in the United States for more than a century. Since its founding in 1918, ACE has spearheaded programs, advocated for legislation, and led initiatives that have shaped the nation's postsecondary landscape.
Kevin Wing is Director of Media Relations & News at Saint Mary's. Write him.
LEARN MORE about the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Council on Education.