Carnegie Recognizes Oxy for Community Engagement
Occidental College has been selected as a community engagement institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, becoming one of a handful of liberal arts colleges to be so designated for its commitment to mutually beneficial collaboration with its surrounding communities.
Unlike other Carnegie classifications -- the acknowledged standard for categorizing U.S. colleges and universities -- community engagement is a voluntary category, for which colleges and universities must apply. In this, the second year of the new classification, only 195 applicants have been selected, 17 of them liberal arts colleges.
"We hope by acknowledging the commitment and accomplishment of these engaged institutions, the Foundation will encourage other colleges and universities to move in this direction. Doing so brings benefits to the community and the institutions," says Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk.
Occidental garnered a dual classification that recognizes both curricular engagement and outreach and community partnerships. With 44 percent of the Occidental student body participating in service learning courses and 21 percent of the faculty teaching them, the new classification underscores the College's mission that includes "a deeply rooted commitment to the public good."
"In the seven years since the Center opened its doors, our community partnerships have striven for reciprocity of interest and mutual benefit for all partners involved, including faculty, students and community," says Maria Avila, director of Occidental's Center for Community Based Learning, a resource and clearinghouse for educational and reciprocal partnerships. "The diversity of community-based classes, research, and student-run projects is making Occidental a leader in academic and community engagement."
Occidental's tradition of community engagement dates back to 1963, when the college's Community Literacy Center was founded to give students the opportunity to provide one-on-one reading and writing instruction to local elementary school children. Home to one of California's oldest and largest Upward Bound programs for the disadvantaged high school youth, Occidental more recently has sought to weave community engagement into the curriculum, whether through a collaboration with mathematics faculty at nearby Franklin High School to improve student retention or an award-winning research project at Solheim Lutheran Home to measure the psychosocial benefits of walking for elderly residents.
The designation by the Carnegie Foundation is the latest recognition for Occidental's community-based learning programs. For the past two years, Occidental has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for exemplary service to disadvantaged youth.
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 "to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of the teacher." The improvement of teaching and learning is central to all of the Foundation's work.