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Appalachian receives Carnegie Foundation’s “community engagement” classification

BOONE—Appalachian State University is one of 119 colleges and universities that has received the “community engagement” classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The designation recognizes institutions that have internalized and sustained their commitment to collaborate with communities through teaching, research and outreach.

“This is a great accomplish for Appalachian,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. “Clearly, this indicates Appalachian’s commitment to be engaged with and contribute to our community.”

Peacock said Appalachian is one of 10 campuses in the UNC system and 119 institutions across the nation that have received the community engagement classification. “This reinforces our commitment to the UNC system’s UNC Tomorrow initiative and says that these institutions serve the regions where we are located and the people of North Carolina.”

Both the university’s new general education curriculum, which takes effect in fall 2009, and its strategic plan that supports the UNC Tomorrow initiative focus on community engagement.

Institutions were classified in one of three categories. Curricular engagement describes teaching, learning and scholarship that engage faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. The outreach and partnerships category entails the application and provision of institutional resources to benefit the campus and community, such as research and economic development.

The third category combines curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships. Appalachian was one of 110 institutions meeting the requirements for the combined category.

The community engagement classification is a voluntary classification that a university chooses to seek by submitting documentation that describes the nature and extent of its community engagement.

“We made the decision to seek this classification in order to recognize and support all of the ways in which Appalachian engages with the local and global community,” said Dave Haney, vice provost for undergraduate education and a member of the team that compiled documents supporting the designation.

Appalachian has more than 75 programs, centers, institutes and initiatives that engage in community outreach and partnership activities. Examples include the university’s student volunteer clearinghouse, Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT), begun in 1987, which coordinates community service, service-learning, and community-based research opportunities for students within Northwestern North Carolina, as well as across the state, nation and world.

Appalachian’s Office of International Education and Development serves as a campus and community resource on global education and connects Appalachian students who have studied or lived abroad with area K-12 schools.

The Public School Partnership promotes collaboration among area public schools and between schools and Appalachian.

The university’s sustainable development program’s teaching and research farm works with area farmers to develop crop alternatives to tobacco.

The university’s arts and culture outreach is illustrated by the more than 150 free concerts offered each year through the Hayes School of Music, exhibits and workshops offered by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and its community arts program, lectures sponsored by the University Forum, and Appalachian Summer Festival and Performing Arts Series presentations.

Economic development and outreach is facilitated through the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the Appalachian Regional Development Institute, the Center for Applied Research in Emerging Technologies and other initiatives.

One of the university’s newer community outreach and partnership programs, Be Active-Appalachian Partnership, promotes physical activity and lifelong fitness across Western North Carolina.

“These and other programs demonstrate the university’s desire to be an open resource to the community,” said Todd Mortensen, associate director of ACT community partnerships at Appalachian. “The exchange of resources between the university and community is mutually beneficial and highly valued.”

A directory of Appalachian’s outreach programs is available at

Faculty research benefitting the community includes a project to improve snowfall projections in Western North Carolina, research to develop alternative fuels, studies to find plant molecules that can boost the immune system, surveys related to tourism development in the region, and other community-based projects.

“The university is dedicated to using its resources to improve citizens’ lives in this region, state and nation,” said Provost Stan Aeschleman. “We not only recognize our obligation to provide public service but also the educational value of doing so. Accordingly, we are committed to connecting what is learned in the classroom and laboratory to activities that promote the public good.”