Community engagement lauded by Carnegie Foundation

Dominican University of California has been selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in recognition of the University’s exemplary institutional focus on community engagement.

According to the Carnegie Foundation, Dominican was selected as a result of the University’s “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.” 

This is the second national recognition Dominican has received recently in recognition for its focus on community service and engagement. In December, Dominican was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Community engagement is central to Dominican’s mission and an essential component of the University’s broader focus on engaged learning, which incorporates active, collaborative learning in the classroom with enriching educational experiences beyond the classroom, said Dominican President Mary B. Marcy.

“Service and community are intrinsic to almost everything we do as an institution. We have fostered intentional, collaborative, and valuable partnerships with community partners locally, regionally and globally,” President Marcy said. “This commitment will grow as the University advances a campus-wide planning process with a goal of defining a distinctive Dominican educational experience that is comprehensive and values-based.”

Dominican’s Service-Learning Program, formally established in 2004, is the primary University-wide source of training and support for community engagement. In the past 10 years, Service-Learning has involved more than 3,100 students from 65 courses in engaged learning projects throughout Marin County. Combined, this work accounts for more than 68,700 hours of service to the community. Service-Learning students work with people from diverse communities, including the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul, immigrant youth at Canal Alliance, at-risk high school students at Marin County Community School, and teen mothers at Young Mom Marin.

Many students are introduced to community engagement through the University’s Campus Ministry, which coordinates both local and international co-curricular opportunities for volunteering. These include service to local shelters and dining halls, tutoring high school students, and participation in Habit for Humanity projects. Every year, Dominican students travel to Tijuana, Mexico to assist in projects in the colonias. Campus Ministry also has developed an outreach program in Uganda.

In recent years, external funding to support community engagement has increased in terms of the number of grants awarded and the range of programs supported. Funding from the Bernard Osher Foundation supports Dominican’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which provides educational programs for adults over 50. Funding from the Marin Community Foundation has supported several Dominican projects, including after school art and dance clubs held at Albert Boro Community Center in San Rafael. These programs are staffed by Dominican art and dance majors. Funding also supports the DO-STEM project, which promotes math and science education for Marin County educationally disadvantaged middle and high school students through tutoring and mentoring by Dominican undergraduate science students.

Other examples of community engagement at Dominican include the University’s Building Bridges of Understanding program offered in partnership with the International Association of Sufism; the Teach with Africa program with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; the Environmental Education program with the National Park Service; the Acquired Brain Injury Support program with the Brain Injury Network of the Bay Area; the PreHealth Profession Mentoring and Support program with Kaiser Permanente; the Huckleberry Wellness Academy with Huckleberry Youth Programs; the Community Broadcasting program with the San Rafael Pacifics and CMCM Channel 30; and the Leadership Lecture Series with Book Passage.

Dominican is developing an Integrative Learning Center that will work with faculty to help them incorporate community partners into their courses and direct students to partners whose work and mission could help them achieve their academic and personal goals.

“The vision of a Dominican education necessitates community engagement as our students are being educated and prepared to be ethical leaders and socially responsible global students – as articulated in our mission,” President Marcy said.