Parkside Earns Carnegie Recognition

Published: January 7, 2015
By: John Mielke


The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. UW-Parkside was the first college or university in Wisconsin to earn Carnegie classification in 2006 and was among just 30 public postsecondary institutions in the U.S. to achieve classification in both the "Outreach and Partnerships" and "Curricular Engagement" categories. 

When Chancellor Debbie Ford arrived at UW-Parkside in 2009, she immediately recognized the university's dedication to the communities of southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. In her inauguration speech, Ford noted: "Community engagement serves as a core element of our vision and mission. Our efforts to serve our greater community embody the essence of how and why we teach, learn, research, and engage." 

Today, Ford leads the continuation of a mission that spans nearly half a century. "Parkside was created in partnership with the community," she said. "The original classification by the Carnegie Foundation in 2006, and now the reclassification, is a testament to the growing value of that partnership." 

Unlike other Carnegie Foundation classifications that rely on national data, the community engagement classification is an elective process – institutions participate voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their initiatives. 

Multifaceted Approach
In the announcement letter to Chancellor Ford, the Carnegie Foundation noted that the university's application "documented excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement, and it responded to the classification framework with both descriptions and examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement. The application also documented evidence of community engagement in a coherent and compelling response to the framework's inquiry."

Further evidence of the university's dedication to the community is found in recent reaffirmation of accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The 2013 HLC report notes that a "fully engaged university is not only a vision at UW-Parkside, but is also a central value expressed in the mission and the guiding principle known as the Wisconsin Idea." 

Andrew Policano, chair of the AACSB board of directors, called the UW-Parkside Solutions for Economic Growth Center (SEG) in the College of Business, Economics, and Computing a best practice for connecting the university with the business community. "The SEG Center provides a systematic and sustainable method for involving students in practical applications," Policano said. "The connections enhance the personal and professional development of students, participating faculty, and the community." 

In addition, UW-Parkside has been selected to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll each year since the inception of the national recognition program in 2006. 

Regional Value-Add 
"The obvious value of UW-Parkside is to provide educational opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life," said Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman. "It is also important that the City of Kenosha and other community-based organizations continue to explore the added value of bringing the university in as a partner." 

Students and faculty working in the university's "App Factory" created Android and iPhone mobile apps that help those who ride Kenosha Area Transit and Racine Belle Urban System public transportation to access schedules. 

Wisconsin State Senator Bob Wirch called UW-Parkside an important asset to the greater Kenosha-Racine area. "I know the importance of having quality higher education in our community and the opportunities that it provides," Wirch said. "I worked at American Brass to pay my way at Parkside, becoming the first member of my family to graduate from college. I appreciated the flexibility Parkside provided me, offering classes at times that allowed me to work full time. We are lucky to have an institution like UW-Parkside right in our backyard."

Wisconsin State Representative Peter Barca said the positive influence of the university's students, staff and faculty goes far beyond the walls of the institution. "UW-Parkside makes our city and region a better place," Barca said. "I am proud and grateful for all that UW-Parkside does to enhance the quality of life in our community."

We CAN Build Stronger Communities
Debra Karp, interim director of Continuing Education and Community Engagement at UW-Parkside, said the work of the university in partnership with a dozen other community organizations through the CAN and CAN Works programs raised awareness of the importance of the local nonprofit sector and left a legacy of strengthened organizations. The CAN and CAN Works programs provided training, technical and financial assistance to almost 100 nonprofit organizations and 3,000 individuals backed by $1.2 million in financial support. "The relationships with the nonprofit community continue with our students regularly engaging in community-based learning and internships with the CAN organizations," Karp said.

Each academic year, approximately 1,000 students participate in community-based learning courses in partnership with more than 60 nonprofit, government and business organizations. 

AmeriCorps VISTA
Since 2009, more than 30 AmeriCorps VISTAs have been in place on the Parkside campus and in community organizations. This past year, a VISTA at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha helped establish access to greater educational attainment by recruiting and encouraging teens to participate in a new educational partnership: the "University of Excellence." The program guarantees admission to UW-Parkside for high school students who succeed in the classroom and contribute to the community. 

The AmeriCorps VISTA project contribution to workforce development and entrepreneurship in Racine helps individuals bring themselves out of poverty. By fostering collaborative efforts among nonprofits and government entities, AmeriCorps VISTA helps build capacity in key programs that address financial fitness, employability and entrepreneurship, education, and access to healthy food for low-income populations. 

"UW-Parkside is a great asset to not only Racine County, but to the entire state of Wisconsin," said Robin Vos, Wisconsin state representative and Assembly speaker. "From producing excellent graduates who join the workforce to the great community involvement, I'm proud of what UW-Parkside continues to accomplish." 

The work of the VISTAs at Human Capital Development Corporation (HCDC), Racine Vocational Ministries, the City of Racine, and Sustainable Edible Economic Development (SEED) focuses on preparedness for employment and entrepreneurship. Racine Mayor John Dickert described UW-Parkside as a committed regional partner. 

"The relationship we have goes beyond the standard city-university relationship and extends into every aspect of our citizens' lives," Dickert said. "Whether it is the educational center along our Root River or the efforts to improve our regional businesses and transportation alliance, UW-Parkside is our partner. The leadership and vision of Chancellor Debbie Ford is a constant reminder of that relationship." 

Engagement as a Strategic Pillar
The UW-Parkside 2014-2018 Strategic Plan embodies community engagement as one of its three Pillars of Excellence: "Advance Economic Growth Through Community Engagement and Partnerships -- pursue initiatives that address current and future educational needs in the community and continually build high-quality and sustainable partnerships that support excellent learning experiences." 

Wisconsin State Representative Samantha Kerkman added that the impact of the university also builds cultural vitality. "The closeness of Parkside's students and faculty to our region is mirrored in Parkside's strong commitment to community engagement," Kerkman said. "UW-Parkside's volunteer program, art galleries, concerts and theater productions have made it an instrumental part of our community." 

State Representative Tom Weatherston echoed his colleagues in the Wisconsin Legislature. "From educating the future leaders of our area, to collaborating with Racine County through the Workforce Development Center, UW-Parkside has played a key role in economic and cultural accomplishments." 

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, through the work of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, developed the first typology of American colleges and universities in 1970 as a research tool to describe and represent the diversity of U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (now housed at Indiana University Bloomington's Center for Postsecondary Research) continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers and others.
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