Berea College is one of 240 U.S. colleges and universities selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. This classification, which must be renewed periodically, was first awarded to Berea College 2008.
Berea, along with other colleges and universities which have an institutional focus on community engagement, was invited to apply (or reapply) for the classification. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an “elective” classification. First offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, institutions participated voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, locally and beyond. Such an approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.
“This recognition reflects Berea College’s institutional commitment to be actively involved in strengthening our community, our region, and our world. Berea’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni are engaged with a wide range of community-focused service and scholarship activities, including service-learning courses, volunteer programs, outreach, grant, and training programs, and community-based research. Reciprocal partnerships with community organizations lead all of us to continuously identify new ways to serve and learn together,” states Ashley Cochrane, Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) at Berea College. CELTS is the home for student community engagement, including community service, service-learning, and a Bonner Scholars Program. The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification reflects the work of CELTS and many other centers, programs, and individuals at Berea College.
While 83 institutions just received the classification for the first time, Berea is among the 157 schools now so classified, after originally being designated in 2006 or 2008. These institutions join the 121 institutions that earned the classification during the 2010 selection process. The Foundation congratulates all 361 campuses on gaining this important designation.
“The importance of this elective classification is borne out by the response of so many campuses that have demonstrated their deep engagement with local, regional, national, and global communities,” said John Saltmarsh, Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”
Central to the classification process is a “documentation framework” developed by a team of advisors to help applicants (and reviewers) assess the nature of an institution’s community engagement commitments. This year, 241 first-time applicants registered to receive the application, 133 institutions submitted applications, and 83 were successfully classified as community engaged institutions. Similarly, 188 campuses were eligible for re-classification, 162 submitted an application, and 157, including Berea College, were successfully re-classified. The classified schools represent campuses in 33 states and U.S. territories. Berea College is the only private, four-year college in Kentucky to receive this classification. In order to be selected, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.
“Berea’s depth and breadth of institutional commitment to community engaged work is recognized by this classification. Local and regional engagement is an integral part of what Berea College is as an institution and who we are as a community. The work is carried out through Berea College’s programming, teaching, scholarship, policies, staffing, funding, assessment, and leadership,” states Dr. Linda Strong-Leek, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Berea College.
The Foundation, through the work of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, developed the first typology of American colleges and universities in 1970 as a research tool to describe and represent the diversity of U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (now housed at Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Postsecondary Research) continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers and others.
Berea, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor, and service. Berea admits only academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. Repeatedly ranked for excellence in academics and service learning, Berea’s graduates go on to distinguish themselves and the College in many fields, living out the College’s motto “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”