The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a national policy and research center dedicated to the improvement of teaching and learning, has again selected Niagara University for inclusion in its Community Engagement Classification.
NU is among 240 colleges and universities nationwide, and 14 in New York state, selected for the foundation's 2015 classification, which includes categories for curricular engagement and community outreach and partnerships. NU was cited for its programs and activities in both categories.
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.
A total of 361 institutions have been successfully classified in the Community Engagement Classification since 2006. Campuses that received the classification in 2006 and 2008, of which Niagara was one, had to undertake a re-classification application and review in order to retain the classification.
The classification is effective through 2025.
"As an academic institution that is committed to utilizing our highly skilled and fully dedicated human resources to advance human progress, we are humbled to receive this prestigious designation from the Carnegie Foundation," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president. "It is our mission to build a reciprocal bridge with the people around us, especially those living and working in impoverished communities. This award is a great credit to Niagara's committed faculty, students, administrators and staff; they are great ambassadors of our Vincentian and Catholic mission."
The Carnegie Foundation first developed and offered the classification in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The elective Community Engagement Classification provides a way for institutions to describe their identity and commitments to community with a public and nationally recognized classification.
The foundation defines community engagement as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
"Your application documented excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement, and it responded to the classification framework with both descriptions and examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement," Carnegie Foundation President Anthony S. Bryk wrote in a congratulatory letter. "The foundation believes that the classification provides campuses of every institutional type an opportunity to affirm a commitment to community engagement as an essential aspect of institutional mission and identity."
Grounded in Niagara's Vincentian heritage, service learning is a core component of the university's undergraduate curriculum. NU students participate in more than 1,000 hours of community service each week during the academic year, an indication of the university's commitment to depicting a measurable impact of its teaching and service mission. Its four colleges also operate centers that provide research, training, and professional and educational services for business and industry, school districts, and families.
In September 2011, NU established the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement as a way of centralizing its numerous service programs, which include Learn and Serve Niagara, ReNU Niagara and Border Community SERVICE.
Niagara is presently engaged in a poverty-focused social entrepreneurship competition that engages students to propose sustainable and impactful ways of addressing hunger and food access in Niagara Falls.
Niagara University also is host to the Western New York Service Learning Coalition, a collaboration of regional colleges, universities and community-based organizations. The coalition works to facilitate the participation of area students in service-learning placements with organizations, as well as to strengthen the experience by providing professional development for faculty who integrate service-learning into their course curricula.
Last month, Niagara University was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning and civic engagement. The Catholic and Vincentian institution is the only college or university from Western New York to have made the list every year since it was launched in 2006.
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center with the primary mission of "working toward a more productive approach to educational research and development, joining researchers, practitioners, and expert others on common goals to solve problems in networked communities." The foundation is located in Stanford, California.
For more information on Niagara University's community service initiatives, visit www.niagara.edu/serving-the-community.