The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has been named among the nation’s top universities for community engagement by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The foundation created its Community Engagement Classification to recognize colleges and universities that benefit their communities in ways not reflected by the national educational data typically used to compile lists of top colleges.
“These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.
UWM is one of 83 colleges and universities receiving the Carnegie classification for the first time in 2015. Nine Wisconsin schools, including four in the University of Wisconsin System, are among the 361 to receive the designation created in 2006.
“UWM’s classification as a Carnegie Community Engagement institution will have impact far beyond the walls of UWM,” Chancellor Mark Mone said. “This is about mutually building success in academics and life preparedness for our students. The classification also is about creating vibrant, collaborative partnerships with economic and social impacts throughout our larger communities locally, regionally, nationally and globally.
“This is a new era at UWM that will stimulate positive outcomes in our many communities,” the chancellor continued. “As an engaged research university, we will bolster our community connections to explore and solve problems together and transform lives in the region and beyond.”
Examples of UWM’s engagement include the College of Nursing’s work with Westlawn-area community groups to promote wellness and reduce exposure to environmental toxins and work at the UWM Silver Spring Community Nursing Center, where faculty and students have provided medical care while learning and doing research for more than 25 years.
Joan Prince, UWM’s vice chancellor for global inclusion and engagement, says the Carnegie classification stands out because it looks at engagement, not just community service.
“Both sides are equal in an engaged partnership, or in the scholarship of engagement,” said Prince, co-chair of the committee that put together UWM’s Carnegie application. “You are looking at input from both sides.”
UWM students log more than 43,000 hours of community service each year, many of them through dozens of classes that include a service-learning component. But engagement also includes research and other types of partnerships.
Prince pointed to the work of faculty with UWM’s Helen Bader Institute of Nonprofit Management in helping nonprofits and community groups do their work better.
“We excel at research,” she said. “Where I think we also excel is that our research can be transformative.”
Another example of excellence can be found at Journey House, which works to promote education, reduce unemployment and crime, strengthen families and revitalize neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s south side. UWM supports the football, basketball and baseball programs there, but Journey House CEO Michele Bria said the partnership goes far beyond visits from UWM coaches or athletes.
“It’s more than sports. It’s really about education and how to get to the next level, the whole pathway to college. At Journey House, we’re really forging deep relationships with multiple departments [at UWM].”
Students and faculty benefit as well.
“Each semester we probably have over 50 service learners and interns working in some capacity at Journey House. UWM service learners and their professors are also out in the community. They’re not necessarily bringing things back to campus – it’s a continuum,” said Bria, who co-chaired UWM’s Carnegie application committee. “I don’t see the ‘campus side’ of engagement and the ‘community side’ of engagement. I see it as one.”