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W&M receives Carnegie community engagement classification

William & Mary has received Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the organization announced Wednesday. About 8 percent of U.S. degree-granting institutions have earned the Carnegie community engagement classification to date.

logoThe classification is awarded to colleges and universities that demonstrate institutionalized practices of community engagement. Unlike the foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an elective classification. Institutions participate voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, local or beyond.

“Service for the greater good is one of the defining characteristics of William & Mary students and alumni,” said President Taylor Reveley. “This has been true for over 300 years. As the community engagement classification from Carnegie makes clear, the W&M community continues in this grand tradition.”

William & Mary students complete more than 300,000 hours of service annually through opportunities made available by the Office of Community Engagement and various other programs and organizations. Hundreds of new students begin their time at William & Mary each year by serving the local community on SHOW Day. Even during breaks, W&M students continue to serve, working with regional, national and international communities and learning about social justice issues as part of the Branch Out program.

But service isn’t just an extracurricular activity at William & Mary; faculty and staff help students connect their academic interests to service in a wide variety of fields. At W&M Law School, students use their legal skills to help veterans obtain disability benefits through the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic. The Mason School of Business’ annual conference on social entrepreneurship connects students with experts, including many W&M alumni, and empowers and challenges the students to seek innovative ways to address social issues. The annual Active Citizens Conference inspires students to consider how they can be engaged in their communities throughout their lives.

Throughout history, William & Mary alumni have committed their lives to service, from President Thomas Jefferson to current Chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA. That trend continues today. According to a fall 2013 report by the Aspen Institute and Washington Monthly, William & Mary had more graduates enter service careers over the first decade of the new millennium than any other national university. Just three years before that report was published, Washington Monthly had ranked William & Mary number one for service in the magazine’s annual guide to colleges.

The Carnegie classification once again highlights William & Mary’s standing as a leader in the field of community engagement.

“This national recognition affirms the breadth, depth, and impact of the College's efforts to make a difference in communities beyond our campus,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler.

“As active citizens, W&M students, faculty and staff embrace community engagement in so many ways -- in how they focus their scholarship, in where they devote their time as volunteers, and in how they connect with communities to understand and address the most pressing of human needs,” she said. “That devotion is so much more than the number of volunteer hours amassed each year, impressive as that figure is. It reflects a foundational belief that W&M people are called to be leaders in their chosen endeavors and to make a real difference for good in the world.”

Drew Stelljes, assistant vice president for student engagement and leadership and director of the Office of Community Engagement, prepared William & Mary’s application to the Carnegie Foundation. Along with the classification, William & Mary received suggestions from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching on how the university might build on its successful community engagement efforts.

“The recommendations align with our aspiration to become the premier university for educating, convening and researching citizen engagement,” Stelljes said.