The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. This makes it one of a select group of higher education institutions recognized for deeply engaging with local, regional, national and global communities.
“These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities and revitalizing their civic and academic missions,” says John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.
Morgridge Center for Public Service Assistant Director Megan Miller was one of three authors of UW-Madison’s classification proposal.
In order to qualify for the Community Engagement Classification, UW-Madison had to demonstrate a connection to community in terms of its mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. The university originally received the classification in 2008 and pursued reclassification for 2015.
“Given our history of outreach, community engagement, lifelong learning opportunities and in general promoting the Wisconsin Idea, pursuing this classification seemed like a natural fit,” says Sarah Mangelsdorf, UW-Madison provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
The Wisconsin Idea is UW-Madison’s campuswide commitment to public service and community engagement. Embodied in the phrase “the boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state,” it holds that what takes place on the UW-Madison campus should enhance the public good.
The university’s Wisconsin Idea Project provides an online listing of community engagement throughout Wisconsin. More than 1,500 projects listed on the site show how UW-Madison advances health and medicine, educates young and old, builds Wisconsin’s economy and improves quality of life.
The Morgridge Center for Public Service at UW-Madison works across academic disciplines and majors to build community partnerships and solve problems through service learning.
“As a political scientist, I’ve interviewed people in both rural and urban areas throughout Wisconsin,” says Kathy Cramer, the Morgridge Center’s interim faculty director. “I’ve seen how much good UW-Madison can do by connecting with communities throughout the state. At the Morgridge Center, we try to make such connections to address critical issues.”
The Morgridge Center created the Community–University Exchange in 2010 to develop community engagement activities, including community-based research. The center also coordinates Badger Volunteers, which connects UW-Madison student volunteers with schools, nonprofits and other community organizations.
The UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies supports the Wisconsin Idea by serving nontraditional students, lifelong learners and the community. Each year, more than 17,000 people attend one or more of its 500 noncredit classes, workshops and conferences.
“We create opportunities for lifelong learners in many ways,” says Jeffrey S. Russell, vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of continuing studies. “One of our new approaches is through massive open online courses that are intimately tied to Wisconsin. They combine online learning experiences with face-to-face encounters in community settings — a novel use of this emerging technology.”
In its application for the Carnegie classification, UW-Madison cited a number of successful community partnerships, including the Wisconsin Innocence Project, the Wisconsin Science Festival, Go Big Read and Engineers Without Borders.
In addition to UW-Madison, three other UW System schools received the Carnegie classification: UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside and UW-Whitewater. Seven other Big Ten schools also received the classification.