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Northeastern earns national recognition for community engagement

The university has been selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The university has been selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Carnegie Foun­da­tion for the Advance­ment of Teaching has selected North­eastern to receive the 2015 Com­mu­nity Engage­ment Clas­si­fi­ca­tion, a national recog­ni­tion that high­lights the university’s long­time insti­tu­tional focus on com­mu­nity engagement.

In selecting North­eastern, the Carnegie Foun­da­tion noted that the uni­ver­sity has shown “excel­lent align­ment among campus mis­sion, cul­ture, lead­er­ship, resources, and prac­tices that sup­port dynamic and note­worthy com­mu­nity engagement.”

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is engaged with our com­mu­nity and with the world,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern. “This engage­ment is cen­tral to our mis­sion. Our fac­ulty and stu­dents impact com­mu­ni­ties world­wide, and are impacted by them. The enrich­ment is mutual.”

North­eastern is now one of 361 insti­tu­tions holding this elec­tive clas­si­fi­ca­tion, which began in 2006 and is man­aged and admin­is­tered by the New Eng­land Resource Center for Higher Edu­ca­tion. North­eastern will hold the clas­si­fi­ca­tion until 2025, at which time it can seek re-​​classification.

These are cam­puses that are improving teaching and learning, pro­ducing research that makes a dif­fer­ence in com­mu­ni­ties, and revi­tal­izing their civic and aca­d­emic mis­sions,” John Salt­marsh, director of the New Eng­land Resource Center for Higher Edu­ca­tion, said in a state­ment announcing this year’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion recipients.

The university’s com­mu­nity engage­ment com­mit­ment extends to its finan­cial aid invest­ment, par­tic­u­larly through schol­ar­ships that sup­port local youth, who par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity ser­vice as part of their schol­ar­ships. North­eastern last year pro­vided 150 grad­u­ates of Boston Public Schools with full tuition need-​​based schol­ar­ships, in addi­tion to hosting col­lege readi­ness events for BPS stu­dents and their fam­i­lies. Other full tuition pro­grams include the Civic Engage­ment Pro­gram and the inno­v­a­tive Torch Scholars pro­gram, which aims to close the col­lege achieve­ment gap for first-​​generation and low-​​income stu­dents who have over­come excep­tional odds. Finan­cial assis­tance is also pro­vided through other pro­grams such as the Ujima Global Leaders Pro­gram and the Foun­da­tion Year pro­gram, which is designed to increase col­lege access to BPS graduates.

The Office of City and Com­mu­nity Affairs has served as the prin­cipal point of engage­ment with neigh­bor­hood and com­mu­nity groups, serving as a liaison between North­eastern and its more than 250 com­mu­nity part­ners. The office also over­sees the Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice, which plays an inte­gral role in stu­dents’ involve­ment in these efforts through pro­grams such as Alter­na­tive Spring Break and orga­nizing ser­vice days and vol­un­teer fairs.

Stu­dents have col­lec­tively per­formed more than 1.2 mil­lion hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice since 2006. These efforts dove­tail with Northeastern’s service-​​learning ini­tia­tives, which inte­grates expe­ri­en­tial learning part­ner­ships between faculty-​​led courses and community-​​based orga­ni­za­tions. Through these part­ner­ships stu­dents engage in many hands-​​on ser­vice projects and oppor­tu­ni­ties. U.S. News and World Report named service-​​learning at North­eastern among the best in the nation for the fourth year in a row.

Com­mu­nity engage­ment is a cen­tral theme across stu­dents’ learning expe­ri­ences both in and out of the class­room, including aca­d­emic pro­grams and majors, research oppor­tu­ni­ties, co-​​ops, study abroad, and senior cap­stone projects. What’s more, last year North­eastern launched its Social Impact Lab, a hub of inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­en­tial cur­ricula, pro­gram­ming, and events designed to empower social change and civic engage­ment across dis­ci­plines and world­wide. The lab’s sig­na­ture pro­gram is “Giving With Pur­pose,” the first-​​ever mas­sive open online course focusing on phil­an­thropy and informed civic engage­ment; the lab also houses North­eastern Students4Giving, an expe­ri­en­tial phil­an­thropy edu­ca­tion program.

In addi­tion to its own stu­dents, North­eastern also leads many youth edu­ca­tion ini­tia­tives, such as those through the Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion and theUrban Health Research and Prac­tice, as well as the Col­lege of Science’s National Sci­ence Foundation-​​funded out­reach pro­gram Physics The­o­rynet. These also include the Bal­four Academy at North­eastern, a col­lege readi­ness pro­gram for Boston stu­dents through a summer enrich­ment pro­gram and tutoring throughout the aca­d­emic year; Squash­Busters, a sports-​​based youth enrich­ment pro­gram com­bining ath­letics, aca­d­e­mics, and com­mu­nity ser­vice; and NUTRONS, a North­eastern student-​​led robotics engi­neering team that col­lab­o­rates with and men­tors high school students.

This com­mit­ment also extends to com­mu­nity devel­op­ment. North­eastern part­nered with gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity groups for the 2012 opening of the new Whit­tier Street Health Center on Tremont Street. Other efforts include trans­forming the Columbus Avenue cor­ridor by helping to secure a $20 mil­lion fed­eral grant in 2014 for upgrades at the Rug­gles MBTA sta­tion. These ren­o­va­tions will be com­pleted in har­mony with the university’s under-​​construction, state-​​of-​​the-​​art Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Sci­ence and Research Com­plex, which is the first pri­vate research devel­op­ment in Boston’s Rox­bury neighborhood.

Northeastern’s research cen­ters also pro­vide exten­sive com­mu­nity ben­e­fits, as fac­ulty and stu­dents con­duct research to iden­tify and imple­ment real solu­tions to soci­etal chal­lenges cur­rently facing urban areas throughout greater Boston.

Looking for­ward, North­eastern is also cre­ating a university-​​wide Center for Com­mu­nity Engage­ment and Neigh­bor­hood Oppor­tu­nity that will coor­di­nate, track, and annu­ally assess all of the university’s com­mu­nity engage­ment efforts. The center will serve as a cen­tral point of con­tact for com­mu­nity mem­bers and partner orga­ni­za­tions to con­nect with Northeastern’s com­mu­nity engage­ment pro­grams, pro­vide des­ig­nated space for the university’s direct ser­vice pro­grams and part­ners to con­vene large com­mu­nity groups, and facil­i­tate com­mu­nity input into engage­ment initiatives.

– By Northeastern News

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