Dominican Earns Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Dominican has earned the 2008 Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Dominican received the elective classification in both the areas of Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships.

Dominican joins such institutions as Duke University, Georgetown University, Purdue University, Emory University and several California State Universities (Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, San Bernardino, San Marcos, and Stanislaus) among the institutions honored with the classification.

“Acquiring this designation brings national recognition to our campus and highlights our commitment to engagement with the community,” said Dominican University of California President Joseph R. Fink.

This is the second major honor Dominican has received this year for its advancements in community service. In February, the Corporation for National and Community Service named Dominican to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for exemplary service efforts and service to disadvantaged youth.

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, previously developed and offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation's other classifications that rely on national data, this is an "elective" classification—institutions elected to participate by submitting required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. This approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

“We hope that 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 to the institution,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk.

Dominican increased its focus on community in 2004 when the University launched its service-learning program. Since then, more than 600 students have participated in courses with service-learning components.

"Through service-learning, our students are enriching their learning by bridging theory to practice and demonstrating their compassion, commitment, and creativity by serving as mentors, tutors, and health workers said Julia van der Ryn, director of service-learning at Dominican.

Supported at Dominican in part by a grant from the Marin Community Foundation, service-learning is an educational approach that integrates meaningful community work with the academic curriculum. Students apply academic skills and critical thinking to address societal issues. Dominican’s program works in partnership with some 30 community organizations and county agencies, including Canal Alliance, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, MarinLink, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Marin AIDS Project, Homeward Bound, Marin County Community School, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the California Reentry Program at San Quentin, and the Marin Workforce Investment Board.

A Dominican task force compiled and submitted the successful application. The task force was led by Julia van der Ryn, director of Service Learning. Other members included Julia Arno, director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; Thomas Burke, director of experiential learning in the Department of Adult and Extended Education; Jenny Li, director of Institutional Research; Martha Nelson, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Ruth Ramsey, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy; Harlan Stelmach, chair of the Department of Humanities; and Sherry Volk, associate vice president of academic affairs.

To create this elective classification, the Carnegie Foundation, working with a team of advisors and a pilot study conducted by 14 colleges and universities, developed a documentation framework to assess the nature of an institution’s community engagement commitments.

This year 217 institutions began the application process but only 147 institutions were able to complete the lengthy and difficult application. Out of the 147 colleges and universities that applied this year, 119 were successfully classified as engaged institutions; 68 are public institutions and 51 are private. In terms of representing Carnegie’s Basic Classification, 38 are classified as doctorate-granting universities, 52 are master’s colleges and universities, 17 are baccalaureate colleges, nine are community colleges and three institutions have a specialized focus—arts, medicine and technology. They represent 34 states and Puerto Pico.

Institutions were classified in one of three categories:

  • Curricular Engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship which engage faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community-identified needs, deepen students’ civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being and enrich the scholarship of the institution.
  • Outreach and Partnerships describes two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources (research, capacity building, economic development, etc.).
  • Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships includes institutions with substantial commitments in both areas described above. *

*Dominican earned this designation

In order to be selected into any of the three categories, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.