We’ve built some great buildings together but there’s so much more to the City-KSU relationship than bricks and mortar.
Don’t get me wrong, bricks and mortar is awesome stuff — and if all goes well next month the KSU Trustees will have an opportunity to vote for the draft campus Master Plan which would set the table for the next round of bricks and mortar — but like any relationship there’s a lot of layers to this “town-gown” thing some of which never see the light of day but are undeniably impactful.
I had an opportunity to be invited to join a team of KSU faculty and staff that were tasked with exploring and documenting the breadth and depth of that relationship over about a 12 month period.
It was a bit like playing the role of town gown cartographers mapping out anything that we could find that would fall under the category of KSU-community engagement. It turns out there’s stuff going on all over that map.
After twelve months of sending scouts out to explore the territory and report back what they saw the group started plotting and cataloging the data points, and then stepping back to see the trends, the successes, and the gaps.
That 12-month snapshot then became the basis for Kent State’s self assessment in their pursuit of the prestigious Carnegie Accreditation which is the gold standard in the academic world for the best practices in town-gown engagement.
The self assessment is step one in a multi-year effort by KSU to apply for the Carnegie Classification that is described as follows:
Carnegie defines Community Engagement as the 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.
The Community Engagement Classification was initiated in 2005 as a pilot classification, and there are 3 categories of the classification:
Outreach & Partnerships
Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships
Getting this Classification is a big deal and not for the faint-hearted because it’s an all-in top to bottom commitment, that never stops and permeates every pore of the University.
Selfishly this sounds great to a City Manager who has seen firsthand how much impact the University can have in the community.
As part of this effort KSU is working hard to spread the gospel of community engagement and they recently brought in a speaker from Georgia to share her insights into the cultural transformation that is the signature of Carnegie designated campuses.
Here’s a video of that talk.