A blue sky over the empty UC Riverside campus
January 9, 2024

Designation acknowledges UCR's community engagement

The Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement is used in funding, policy, rankings decisions

Author: J.D. Warren
January 9, 2024

UC Riverside has received the 2024 Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. The announcement was made Jan. 8 by the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The designation recognizes UCR’s strong community-engaged research, as well as collaborations with area schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and other organizations. Selection follows an intensive self-study and application process and was granted to 18 new-member U.S. colleges and universities this year; there were an additional 22 renewals. The designation is now shared by only 368 college campuses among 4,000 institutions that qualify.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification framework is the national standard for best practices for community-engaged research and learning in higher education. Carnegie classifications are an important tool used by policymakers, granting agencies, foundations, and researchers in evaluating institutions, including for funding decisions. They are also used in some college rankings.

“This is another step toward meeting the objectives in our strategic plan and expanding the visibility and scope of influence of UCR locally, nationally, and globally,” Chancellor Kim Wilcox said in announcing the designation.

The designation comes on the heels of another prominent accolade in the past year. In June 2023, UCR received an invitation to join the prestigious Association of American Universities, which includes North America’s 71 top research universities.

Carnegie’s letter announcing the award reads in part: “Your institution’s application documented excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement. It responded to the classification framework with both descriptions and examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement.”

UCR’s Carnegie Community Engagement Advisory Committee, comprised of leaders from both on and off campus, worked for more than two years on the self-study and application that led to the designation, with leadership from committee chair and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brian Haynes, and Beth Claassen Thrush, director of strategic initiatives and special projects for the chancellor and provost.

The advisory committee defined UCR community-engaged research, learning, and service as work that: 

•    establishes and sustains mutually beneficial, respectful, and sustained collaboration that creates a sense of collective ownership and reciprocal value for the campus (including students, faculty and staff) and community partners, 

•    enriches the scholarship of the institution by accessing community cultural wealth and expertise, 

•    addresses community-identified needs and enhances community well-being, and 

•    deepens students' civic and academic learning, and promotes connections between these through opportunities for critical reflection. 


Recommendations from the advisory committee for ongoing work at UCR include:

•    Increase the number and quality of community-engaged learning opportunities

•    Reduce barriers to participation in community-engaged research, learning and service

•    Improve assessment of community partnership experiences

•    Better recognize faculty contributions to community engagement

•    Better communicate with our partners across the region

UCR must apply to renew the classification in 2031. More information on the 2024 Carnegie designations can be found here.

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