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What is an engaged, metropolitan university?

The words have been included in UTC strategic plans by 4 chancellors. Being able to share a common meaning remains a challenge. While the phrase will be a starting point for defining UTC, there is plenty of room to provide more meaning, greater consistency and real measureable outcomes.

This section provides information from other institutions to make the words connect with tangible results:

Community engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

(Carnegie Classifications) The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

Metropolitan State University has long prided itself on being a community-based institution of higher education. In recent years, the university has developed a regional and national reputation for its community partnerships' programs organized through departments or through the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship that connect faculty, staff, students, and alumni to community-based organizations and agencies

The vision of the university states: The faculty, staff, and students of Metropolitan State will reflect the area's rich diversity and will demonstrate an unwavering commitment to civic engagement.

In a performance report of the Community University Research Alliances (CURA) Program, SSHRC lists the following short and long term objectives:

  • Promote sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise between universities and organizations in the community
  • Reinforce community decision-making and problem-solving capacity
  • Enrich research, teaching methods and curricula in universities
  • Enhance student’s education and employability by means of diverse opportunities to build their knowledge, expertise and work skills through hands-on research and related experience

Today there is a clear tendency for the term ‘engagement’ either to replace, or to pair with the term ‘outreach’, as it is felt that it better conveys the idea of mutuality and the sharing of leadership. It appears that a university can best improve its understanding of engagement as a scholarly activity by encouraging each academic unit to customize the definition in ways appropriate to the disciplines underlying faculty expertise.

The work of the engaged institution is responsive to community-identified needs, opportunities and goals in ways that are appropriate to the university mission and academic strengths. The interaction also builds greater public understanding of the role of the university as a knowledge asset and resource. 

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