University Receives National Recognition for Community Engagement and Service

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The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has awarded The University of Scranton its highly respected 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

The University is among just 361 colleges in the nation, and one of only 24 colleges in Pennsylvania, to earn this prestigious classification. The classification will stand for 10 years.

Through an extensive voluntary application process, the Carnegie Foundation recognized universities with documented success in curricular engagement and outreach and partnership with community organizations.

In a letter informing the University of its classification status, the Carnegie Foundation praised the University’s application for documenting “… excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”

University of Scranton President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., congratulated and thanked members of the campus community for their “deep and abiding commitment to serving others that is recognized and celebrated through this achievement” in an announcement to the campus about the recognition.

“We are inspired by the life and teachings of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, who challenges us to ‘love and serve in all things,’” said Father Quinn.

The University’s commitment to community engagement is well documented through individual volunteer service hours logged by students, faculty and staff, as well as through hundreds of projects involving service-learning, scholarship, research and other initiatives. Students participate in community engagement through service-learning courses, service programs, volunteer activities, downtown revitalization engagement events and student club projects.

Examples of long-established partnerships with the University and community organizations include its 28-year partnership with the United Way of Lackawanna and Luzerne County to offer the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program; its six-year partnership with the Lackawanna County Medical Society and other organizations to offer the Edward R. Leahy Jr. Clinic for the Uninsured; and its 18-year partnership with 14 local school districts and parochial elementary schools to offer the University of Success program. The University also launched several more recent programs that include the University’s four-year partnership with Lackawanna County District Court to offer the Shoplifter Intervention Program and its two-year partnership with the Scranton School District to offer the SMART Mentoring Program, among others.

The University’s Center for Service and Social Justice, which is the point of contact for student volunteer activities and the region’s 120 non-profit agencies, has initiated more than 10 new programs in the last six years. New initiatives include the Youth Employment Series for 16 to 21 year-olds that focuses on career goals, the Big Friends/Little Friends cooperative after-school tutoring program, and the Christmas Day Community Breakfast to help those in need.

Student involvement in international service programs has doubled in recent years, increasing from five international trips with 51 participants in 2008-09 academic year, to 11 international trips with 113 participants in the 2012-13 academic year.

Those served by programs offered by the University and community partners have also increased. The Leahy Clinic, for example, has seen patient visits increase from 840 in 2008 to 1,679 in 2012.

Expressing an institutional commitment to service, the University’s Kania School of Management (KSOM), Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) articulate specific goals for activities that support engagement with local, regional and world communities by the University as an entity, as well as for engagement opportunities for faculty, staff and students.

At the University, 130 for-credit courses include a service-learning component, with 1,694 students participating in these classes taught by 86 faculty members. Fifteen (54 percent) of its academic departments have a service-learning requirement. One hundred percent of PCPS courses identify service-learning outcomes in their syllabi.

Several academic programs have also incorporated community engagement into their curriculum. For example, the Business Leadership Honors Program, one of the University’s programs of excellence, integrated the senior year project to serve as a consulting opportunity with regional not-for-profit organizations. Over recent years, the students have worked with the regional Employment Opportunity and Training Center, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the city’s Nay Aug Park Greenhouse Project.  

The Carnegie Foundation initiated the classification in 2006 with just 76 institutions making the listing. The University first earned the classification in 2008, when the foundation recognized just 119 universities in the nation for success in Curricular Engagement; Outreach and Partnership; or both. In addition, 121 institutions earned the classification in 2010. This is first time, colleges earning classification in 2006 and 2008 could apply to re-establish their classification until 2025. The University is among just 240 colleges in the nation, to earn this prestigious classification in 2015.