Middle Tennessee State University has been recognized nationally for its community engagement efforts by a higher education research center.
MTSU is among 240 colleges and universities across the country to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
MTSU is also among 157 of those institutions that was re-classified for the designation after having first achieved it in either 2006 or 2008. Meanwhile, 83 institutions received the classification for the first time for 2015, according to the Carnegie Foundation.
Colleges and universities that focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of a restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. MTSU was first recognized for its community engagement efforts in 2008.
For the latest classification, MTSU submitted examples and outcomes of more than a dozen projects in recent years that involved strong community engagement from a variety of academic disciplines. Among them:
- In 2012, students and faculty in the College of Mass Communication's Department of Electronic Media Communication were deeply involved in filming, producing and directing the Capitol Street Party, a free public event that drew some 25,000 people to downtown Nashville. Students worked alongside Capitol Records executives and technicians to stage the show.
- In 2012, the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences held its annual Field Day in which the university celebrated the 100th anniversary of agriculture at MTSU as well as the grand opening of the state-of-the-art MTSU Dairy in Lascassas. The event, which drew roughly 350 attendees from the community, involved partnerships with numerous organizations and businesses.
- MTSU's Division of Academic Affairs continues its partnership with Murfreesboro City Schools for the Club MARVEL program. The Saturday academy targets at-risk students and exposes them to a college campus. The academy includes tours of MTSU facilities and interaction with faculty.
"MTSU prides itself in fostering relationships beyond our campus that allow our students, faculty and staff to participate in projects and educational initiatives that advance our academic mission," MTSU Provost Brad Bartel said. "This classification by the Carnegie Foundation is motivation for the university to continue these efforts and expand them."
According to Carnegie, unlike its other classifications that rely on national data, community engagement is an "elective" classification -- institutions participate voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. This approach enabled the foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.
The New England Resource Center for Higher Education, or NERCHE, at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and the Carnegie Foundation partner to administer the classification. The Carnegie Foundation is an independent policy and research center that "supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge," according to www.nerche.org.
"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 NERCHE. "These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions."
A listing of the institutions that hold the Community Engagement Classification can be found at www.nerche.org.
"This is the first time that there has been a re-classification process," noted Amy Driscoll, consulting scholar for the Community Engagement Classification. "And we are seeing renewed institutional commitment, advanced curricular and assessment practices, and deeper community partnerships, all sustained through changes in campus leadership, and within the context of a devastating economic recession."