OSU receives coveted community engagement designation

Larry Lev, an agricultural economist at Oregon State University, visits the farmers market in Corvallis. He specializes in agricultural marketing and alternative food systems and helps develop and strengthen farmers markets. Outreach like this is why OSU has received the coveted community engagement designation. (Photo: Tiffany Woods)

Oregon State University has received the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification, a coveted designation that highlights its land grant mission to serve the state of Oregon.

This makes it one of only two universities in the Pac-12, and one of 50 in the nation, to be given both that designation and the status of “very high research activity,” by the Carnegie Foundation, which the university has had since 1987.

Institutions can voluntarily participate in the Community Engagement classification process. The classification focuses on the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their communities for a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge.

Scott Reed, the Vice Provost of Outreach for the Extension Service Administration, said the classification reflects OSU’s role as a land grant. “The historic role of educational outreach from a land grant university is to take the university to the people,” he said.

The relatively new classification represents institutions with substantial commitments in the areas of curricular engagement, outreach and partnership. “Engaged learning within a community served by Oregon State University starts with needs and opportunities to improve social, economic and environmental welfare,” said Reed. “We then collaborate through partnerships with other public and private institutions to increase access to knowledge for the betterment of human lives.”

Curricular engagement “includes institutions where teaching, learning and scholarship engage faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration.” Outreach and partnerships focuses on the application of resources for community use with benefits to both the campus and the community; as well as collaborative interactions with the community for the mutual exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources.

“We have strong, strong outreach and engagement service, from our Extension Services to beyond, teaching and research that extends knowledge and learning to the people of the state,” said Roger Rennekamp, the department head of the 4-H Youth Extension.

“We learn what it is what people need and want. And because we are so engaged we are able to listen to people and identify problems that can be researched and then the information comes full circle and goes back into the community,” Rennekamp said in regards to the significance of having both designations.

The committee that sought the designation comprised of a broad and diverse mix from all across the campus. Members included staff from the Valley Library, to the College of Business and the cooperative extension office.

“We learned so much, the scope of things that OSU is doing inside the state of Oregon is incredible. This process helps us uncover things we might not have known about.  We have a lot of stuff going on out there that is making a difference in the lives of Oregonians,” said Rennekamp, of the process. “We have an outstanding research program as well as an outstanding community engagement.  Hopefully we are better at both as a result. “

~Mia Isaacson

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