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Tufts Earns 'Community Engaged' Distinction

Tufts Earns 'Community Engaged' DistinctionTufts University was recently recognized for its commitment to community engagement by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.08.06] The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently selected Tufts University for its new Community Engagement Classification, which was created 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, told E-News 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.

“Tufts is truly active in both of those realms and that is really important,” Geronimo Terkla said.

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 Wildlife Medicine Program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, which gives students hands-on experience in wildlife and conservation biology; and the Tufts Dental Facilities for Persons with Special Needs, a system of clinics across Massachusetts that serve patients with mild to severe disabilities.

According to Alexander McCormick, a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation, the creation of the new classification is part of the evolution of the organization’s decades-old system of classifying colleges and universities.

"It represents a significant affirmation of the importance of community engagement in the agenda of higher education," McCormick said in a foundation statement.

Carnegie Foundation President Lee S. Shulman added 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.”

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