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UNG earns Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

January 31, 2020

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is one of the 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. Including this year's designees, only 359 schools nationwide carry the voluntary classification.  Only six public universities in Georgia have earned the designation.

"This classification underscores UNG's dedication to support both academic and community engagement," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "Our students, faculty and staff contribute to our communities in meaningful ways through service-learning programs and community partnerships."

The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

"These newly classified and re-classified institutions are doing exceptional work to forward their public purpose in and through community engagement that enriches teaching and research while also benefiting the broader community," said Mathew Johnson, executive director of the Swearer Center.

Dr. Carly Redding, interim director of academic engagement at UNG, said the classification helps UNG earn external grants and recruit high-caliber faculty, particularly those interested in advancing engagement.

"UNG's community is so large, encompassing nearly the entire northeast Georgia region, so the more funding we have, the more help and expertise we can provide in our service areas," Redding said.

The number and effectiveness of UNG's community partnerships have increased in recent years through efforts of multiple departments and individuals and initiatives such as the Regional Education and Economic Development (REED) initiative, Redding said.

Redding is pleased with UNG's 2020 designation and the engagement success so far, but already is looking ahead to re-classification in 2025 and how UNG can continue to raise the bar higher. She's working with Bobbi Larson, UNG's director of economic development and community engagement, to capture all of the related activities and programs at UNG. The university serves 30 counties across northeast Georgia.

"Access to education, workforce development, and partnerships and collaboration are the overarching themes of the REED Initiative," Larson said. "Through proactive institutional engagement with partners and stakeholders, UNG seeks to increase competitive capacities and ensure the north Georgia region remains a great place to live, work, and play.  We want to educate students for civic and social responsibility and further strengthen the bond between campus and community."  

Redding pointed out that UNG's Civic Action Plan, called "Engagement: It's In Our Leadership DNA," that served as the application for renewal of UNG's Community Engagement Classification also is providing a road map for the 2020-25 strategic plan currently under development.

UNG was one of the first institutions in Georgia to be awarded the designation in 2010 as then-North Georgia College & State University (NGCSU) and has maintained the designation since then.  However, Redding explained that UNG elected to apply as a new institution during this cycle instead of as a renewing institution due to the consolidation of NGCSU and Gainesville State College.

The Carnegie Foundation promotes academic engagement and community partnerships and the many ways to enhance the educational experience. The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years.

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