Commitment to community earns FHSU recognition from national teaching foundation

Fort Hays State University has received national recognition for its effectiveness in providing public service as part of its educational mission.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, announced at a news conference today that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently selected Fort Hays State University for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. The Community Engagement Classification includes two separate categories -- Curricular Engagement, and Outreach and Partnerships -- and FHSU was recognized in both.

President Hammond noted that FHSU was the only university in Kansas that had received the classification, which is based on demonstrated and continuing services to the community outside the university campus.

Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, cited a letter from Amy Driscoll, consulting scholar for the Community Engagement Classification, and Chun-Mei Zhao, senior scholar and director of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, which stated that FHSU provided "both descriptions and examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement."

Gould also shared from a letter that Driscoll and Zhao sent to Dr. Hammond announcing the classification. That letter stated in part: "Your campus is one of 119 institutions that will now be added to the Community Engagement Classification completed in 2006, bringing the total to almost 200. It is heartening to see this level of commitment and activity. Clearly, higher education is making real strides in finding ways to engage with and contribute to important community agendas."

Gould said the significance of the classification was best explained by Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation, who said: "We hope that by acknowledging the commitment and accomplishment of the engaged institutions, the foundation will encourage other colleges and universities to move in this direction. Doing so brings benefits to the community and to the institution."

Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost of quality management and interim dean of the College of Business and Leadership, led a team of FHSU faculty and administrators who submitted an application documenting the university's alignment of mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.

Crawford said that out of some 5,000 institutions of higher education nationally, it was gratifying to see FHSU recognized as one of fewer than 200 that qualified for this recognition from the Carnegie Foundation.

"FHSU has long been recognized for the exceptional effort of our faculty in the area of community service," Crawford said. "In fact, our provost was awarded the William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement last year by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. That award, one of AASCU's highest, recognized Dr. Gould's leadership in advancing the civic mission of higher education. This designation by the Carnegie Foundation really formalizes activity that has long defined the undergraduate experience at FHSU."

Unlike other classifications that rely on national data, the Community Engagement Classification is elective. Institutions elect to participate by submitting the required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, local or beyond.

Crawford described some of the key activities that garnered the Community Engagement Classification for FHSU:

  • FHSU has been a national leader in AASCU's American Democracy Project, a nationwide movement to help young citizens become informed about and engaged in their communities;
  • The university's Docking Institute of Public Affairs has become a model of how a university center can serve non-profit and governmental agencies;
  • FHSU's Center for Civic Leadership provides statewide leadership education opportunities for teens;
  • FHSU has taken advantage of its partnership with The New York Times to provide free newspapers to all students and faculty and to create the renowned Times Talk project, which is a series of luncheon presentations on current topics based on stories from the Times.
About the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, the foundation is an independent policy and research center with the primary mission to "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. The foundation is located in Stanford, Calif.

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