Western Washington University has joined 118 other U.S. colleges and universities in receiving the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
“Community engagement and service is a critical component of Western’s public service mission. Increasing our impact in Washington is one of the three pillars of Western’s strategic plan, and our aim is to integrate community engagement with the student experience as well as the research and teaching mission of the university,” said Western Washington University president Sabah Randhawa. “We’re glad to have the diversity of our efforts and commitments reflected in the Carnegie Classification, and look forward to deepening them in the years ahead.”
Western is receiving this honor for the second time, after its initial classification in 2010; the new classification will be valid through 2026. To receive the classification, institutions must operate community outreach programs that meet a need, deepen students' civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being and enrich the scholarship of the institution.
A few examples of Western’s community outreach include:
- The Compass 2 Campus program, which is designed to increase access to higher education by providing an opportunity for local 5th through 12th grade students from traditionally underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds to be mentored by university students. The program serves over 800 elementary and secondary school students; nearly that many Western students serve as mentors.
- A service of Western’s Center for Community Learning, the Community Engagement Fellows (CEF) program creates small, cohort-based discussion groups of faculty, staff, community members, and representatives of area nonprofits, schools, libraries, and city and county services. In this way participants build relationships, learn of each other’s work, and find opportunities to collaborate for the betterment of our region and its residents. In February, CEF will host its second national conference and training for colleges, universities and organizations interested in using CEF practices to foster community-based learning in their organizations or to establish CEF programs of their own. People interested in learning more about CEF are encouraged to visit the program website.
- Western students, faculty and staff contribute over 750,000 hours of community service a year, based on available data plus conservative estimates.
The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years with multiple classification cycles in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2020.
Of the 119 institutions classified in the 2020 cycle, 44 are receiving the classification for the first time while 75 are now, like Western, re-classified, after being classified originally in 2010 or 2015. These 119 institutions join the 240 institutions that earned the classification during the 2015 selection process, for a total of 359 campuses who are currently active holders of this important designation.
Western joins the University of Washington, Washington State University, Gonzaga, Whitworth, Seattle University, UW Bothell and UW Tacoma as the state’s institutions chosen for classification by Carnegie.
A listing of the institutions that currently hold the Classification endorsement can be found on bit.ly/ClassifiedInstitutions.