Worcester State University recognized with 2024 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification

January 8, 2024
By: Deborah Alvarez O'Neil

WORCESTER – The American Council on Education (ACE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced today that Worcester State University has achieved renewal of its elective Classification for Community Engagement through 2032. The national distinction recognizes the university’s continued excellence in building and strengthening mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships within the community.

“Worcester State University has been deeply engaged with our community since our founding 150 years ago as a training ground for teachers in the region’s public schools,” said Worcester State President Barry Maloney. “Today, we interface with dozens of community partners and offer students a multitude of experiential learning opportunities and ways to connect and serve. We are gratified that the Carnegie Foundation has recognized our ongoing commitment to civic engagement and service learning.”

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 19 years. Worcester State is among 40 institutions classified in the 2024 cycle and of those, among 22 that are being reclassified. A total of 368 institutions are active holders of this important designation. Among the 2024 recipients of the classification, 25 are public institutions and 15 are private.

Worcester State first received the community engagement classification in 2015. To receive reclassification, the university was required to undertake an extensive self-study to document progress in advancing community engagement efforts since the first classification. The self-study was then assessed by a national review committee. In its notification letter, Carnegie noted that Worcester State demonstrated “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement” and provided examples of “exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement.”

“We recognize these institutions for their exceptional commitment to community engagement, and their work to transform knowledge into meaningful action,” said Timothy Knowles, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “They exemplify the true spirit of the Carnegie endorsement and the power of serving the public good.”

A number of community-focused centers and institutes at Worcester State lead the way on engagement initiatives: the Binienda Center for Civic Engagement, the Latino Education Institute (LEI), the 50-year-old Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Urban Action Institute, and CityLab, among them.

The centers have established deep connections across Worcester, particularly within greater Worcester’s underserved and historically marginalized communities, working alongside them to advance their goals and aspirations. LEI alone serves 500 K-12 students each year in year-long evidence-based programs involving Worcester State students. One hundred percent of the children who participate in LEI programs graduate from high school and 80 percent go on to enroll in college. The Urban Action Institute and CityLab have pioneered innovative community-based research projects.

Associate Vice President for University and Community Engagement Mary Jo Marion, said the renewal of the Carnegie classification affirms the progress Worcester State continues to make as a trusted and valued community partner.

“This recognition helps confirm our belief that Worcester State University is at its best when students, faculty, and staff work alongside community partners to advance priorities,” Marion said. “We are grateful to be part of a vibrant and active urban community that is eager to engage in community-university partnerships for the public good.”

Civic and community engagement are also infused throughout Worcester State undergraduate and graduate academic programs in the social sciences, STEM, and the arts. For example, history professor Aldo Garcia-Guevara has led a project with his students and the Worcester Historical Museum to build a public archive of the Latino communities in Worcester that includes oral histories, images, and digital materials. Biotechnology professor Roger Greenwell leads a partnership with Assabet Valley Regional Technical/Vocational School District to foster a STEM pipeline through mentoring with Worcester State students.

Civic engagement efforts like these are especially important because 95 percent of Worcester State’s students are from Massachusetts and 90 percent stay in the state after graduation, said Amanda Wittman, executive director of the Binienda Center for Civic Engagement. The center facilitates the development of projects, internships, and volunteerism among faculty, students, and community organizations.

“Our students are from here, and they are doing great things in Worcester,” Wittman said. “When they graduate they stay here, so civic and community engagement helps students begin to think about who they are going to be as community members in the future.”


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