Fairfield University recognized by Carnegie Foundation for Community Engagement initiatives and activities


Fairfield University has been selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification, recognizing colleges and universities for their engagement and contribution to important community agendas. Fairfield is one of 119 institutions chosen this year and joins 76 institutions chosen in 2006.

Fairfield was selected for both the Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships categories. A letter from Chun-Mei Zhao, senior scholar and director of Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, cited Fairfield's "excellent alignment among mission, culture, leadership resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement." Referencing the group of institutions selected this year, Zhao said, "It is heartening to see this level of commitment and activity. There is much to celebrate."

University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., commenting on Fairfield's selection said, "Fairfield has always been committed to sharing its resources and special expertise for the betterment of the community as a whole. Most importantly, Fairfield serves the wider community by educating its students to be socially aware and morally responsible persons. To be selected for this Carnegie Foundation special classification is a great achievement for Fairfield University and an acknowledgement of and tribute to the work that has been done by students, faculty, administrators and staff at the institution on this critical component of our mission."

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification. Unlike the Carnegie Foundation's other classifications that rely on national data, this is an "elective" classification - institutions elected to participate by submitting required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. This year, 147 institutions applied for the classification. Of the 119 chosen, 68 are public and 51 private. Thirty-eight are doctorate-grant universities, 52 are master's colleges and universities, 17 are baccalaureate colleges, nine are community colleges and three have a specialized focus - arts, medicine and technology.

Among those selected are College of the Holy Cross, Duke University, Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Regis University, Tulane University, Villanova University and Xavier University.

"The Carnegie staff and our panel of advisors were heartened by the exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement in the selected institutions," said  Carnegie Consulting Scholar Amy Driscoll, who directs the Community Engagement Classification process for the Foundation. "We noted strong alignment between institutional mission and budgetary support, infrastructure, leadership, marketing, faculty hiring, orientation and development."

In 2005, Fairfield established the Center for Faith and Public Life whose primary purposes are to promote civic engagement and service learning opportunities for students; to develop strategic ways for the University to partner with faith-based and community-based organizations; to offer a public forum for balanced reflection on religion and public policy, and to act as a central point of information for university-wide civic engagement locally and internationally. In addition, this fall Fairfield formed a Subcommittee on Community Engagement as part of work of the Committee on Arts, Culture and Community Engagement.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 22, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 171