Carnegie Foundation Honors Xavier for Engaging with Communities

| January 14, 2009

 

Xavier University is among 10 institutions in Ohio and 149 nationwide to be recognized this year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Xavier was recognized for both its Curricular Engagement & Outreach and Partnerships.
 
"The requirements, when met, describe an institution deeply engaged with its community," according to the Carnegie Foundation.
 
“This is great news for Xavier University and for the Greater Cincinnati area. We are the only region in the state, and probably one of only a handful in the country, with three universities recognized as community engaged," said Byron White, Xavier Associate Vice President for Community Engagement. His office handled the application for the program.
 
Northern Kentucky University has already received the dual designation. The University of Cincinnati previously received the Outreach designation.
 
Xavier’s commitment to service and outreach exemplifies its Catholic, Jesuit mission. President Michael J. Graham, S.J., states in his welcome on the Web site, “Our many opportunities for service and our outreach programs enhance and complete the educational enterprise here, for it is through such opportunities that students learn that the education they receive here finds its ultimate value in the service to those around them, and especially to the poor.”
 
In 2002, he established the Community Building Collaborative @ Xavier (CBCX) to coordinate engagement activities across campus with White as director. White also led the Community Building Institute (CBI), a partnership between Xavier and the United Way. CBI provides training and facilitation in asset-based community development practices, focusing on the assets of the communities in which it partners rather than the deficits.  Through CBI, Xavier established the Evanston-Norwood-Xavier (ENX) Community Partnership with leaders from the two communities bordering campus. The Partnership provides opportunities for students and faculty to engage in initiatives mutually beneficial to the communities of Norwood and Evanston as well as Xavier.
In 2007, White was promoted to associate vice president for community engagement and charged with establishing the James and Delrose Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning, started with a gift from Xavier alumnus James Eigel. On Jan. 26, the Center will kick-off an Academy for Community-Engaged Faculty and will oversee a Community-Engaged Fellows scholarship program beginning this fall. It also will convene the Community-Engaged Learning Network of campus departments and offices involved in engagement activities, and will coordinate campus-wide systems of communication and evaluation around engagement.
 
Xavier believes each partner is both teacher and learner. Students and faculty meet at “community tables” and engage with resident leaders and institutions already involved in community change, learn from them, and determine how Xavier might best participate. The Eigel Center serves as an intermediary. Some of these collaborations have included:
 
1)      A marketing survey of the Evanston business corridor conducted by five graduate students under the supervision of Xavier professor Chris Manolis, PhD.
2)      A needs assessment survey of 81 Evanston senior residents conducted by senior citizens in Evanston under the supervision of occupational therapy professor Georgianna Miller, MEd, OTR/L. The findings assist seniors in making home improvements to allow them to remain in their homes safely for a longer period of time.
3)      A plan for a start-up, for-profit, housing development company was put together by students in a graduate level entrepreneurship course by Len Brzozowski, director of Xavier’s Center for Executive and Corporate Learning. The class included five Evanston residents and devised a socially conscious business that made a profit while staying true to the goals of the Evanston Housing Plan.
 
A number of community-engagement programs already exist on campus. Alternative Breaks, ConneXions, X-Action, Brueggeman Center Fellows, Philanthropy Program, Summer Service Internship Program, Philosophy, Politics and the Public honors policy internship program, Academic Service Learning Semesters in Nicaragua, India, and Ghana, Occupational Therapy Guatemala Summer Service Learning, Summer Reading Practicum, Peer Learning Luncheons, The Xavier Center for Excellence in Education (XCEED), Williams College of Business’ Community Engagement Certificate, Community Service Jobs Program, and others long have been outlets for community engagement.
 
White worked with a committee consisting of three department heads to develop the Academy for Community-Engaged Faculty to create community-engaged curricula. In summer 2009, a Faculty Fellow for Community-Engagement will be selected to serve a two-semester term as part of the Center for Teaching Excellence. A new fellow will be named each year to promote engaged scholarship and provide support to faculty interested in pursuing this approach.
 
The Carnegie Foundation recognized 76 institutions for community engagement when the program debuted in 2006. The Carnegie Foundation is an independent policy and research center at Stanford University in California.