Mount Wachusett Community College has been selected to receive the 2015 Civic Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The prestigious designation continues MWCC’s Carnegie recognition for institutional excellence in civic engagement, initially granted in 2008.
On Jan. 7, the foundation announced that 240 public and private colleges and universities in the U.S. were added or renewed to its 2015 classification. There are now a total of 361 campuses in the country that have received this designation. MWCC will retain the designation through 2025, when it is next eligible to apply for reclassification.
“Civic engagement is a key component of our mission as a student- and community-centered institution, and it is a tremendous honor to be recognized once again by the Carnegie Foundation for the outstanding work and commitment of our students, faculty and staff in this regard,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Since 2001, we have placed great emphasis on the importance of integrating classroom learning with community service, and continue to expand our programs and opportunities. Students gain practical experience that sets them apart in a competitive job market and communities benefit tremendously by this engagement.”
Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, initially offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Institutions elect to participate by submitting documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, including examples showing alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement. Just two-percent of community colleges in the U.S. have received the designation.
Through its endowed Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, Mount Wachusett is among the institutions of higher education deeply embedding civic learning into its culture and serving as a state and national model. The college uses a multi-tiered approach that engages students, faculty and community partners. During the FY13 academic year, 144,000 hours of service learning, volunteerism, internships, co-ops, practicums and field experience were performed, with a value of $3.24 million to the North Central Massachusetts region.
Most recently, the college was named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the sixth consecutive year, the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service learning, and civic engagement. MWCC also was selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to co-lead a three-year national initiative focusing on the topic of economic inequality and its impact on democracy. In 2014, the college served as a model institution for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project decision to incorporate civic learning as an expected outcome for undergraduate students.
Since the last Carnegie classification, MWCC civic engagement staff has continued to focus time and energy on enhancing programs, services, community outreach and partnerships and aligning programming and activities with the college’s strategic plan, said Fagan Forhan, the center’s director and director of Experiential Learning Opportunities and Civic Engagement at MWCC.
“We have worked extremely hard to embed civic learning within the fabric of the MWCC experience, and to ensure that faculty and staff have opportunities to engage in meaningful and reciprocal ways within our community,” she said. In January, 2012, MWCC received its largest single donation to date from an anonymous benefactor in the form of a $2 million endowment to support civic engagement at the college in perpetuity. The donation, made to the college through the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, provides MWCC with a substantial annual allocation to support civic engagement.
The center remains focused on community engagement with North Central Massachusetts residents, nonprofits, government, schools and administration, and MWCC students.