UMass one of two systems nationally honored for community engagement

Jan. 7, 2015:UMass is one of two university systems nationwide to have all of its campuses represented in the Carnegie Foundation's newly released 2015 Community Engagement Classification - considered the gold-standard system for measuring the service universities provide to their local communities.

"This designation says so much about the character, ethos and spirit of the University of Massachusetts," said UMass President Robert L. Caret. "We prize excellence and achievement at UMass, but we also value community and place a premium on giving back."

"I am extremely pleased with this recognition of the work we do, and proud that each of our five campuses has been recognized for its outreach to the community," President Caret added. "It says a lot about the values we try to instill, and about the energy and commitment of our students, faculty and staff."

UMass and Rutgers University were the only two public university systems in the nation to have each of its campuses achieve this classification for community service on the 2015 list. President Caret noted that it was particularly gratifying to see how well each UMass campus is fulfilling its core mission of education, research and public service, and said the achievement was all the more appropriate given the university's land-grant heritage.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected 240 U.S. colleges and universities to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification, which is based on an evaluation of the nature and extent of each institution's engagement with the community - local, regional and global. These institutions joined 121 others that had received the classification from Carnegie in 2010.

UMass Boston first achieved this classification for community service in 2006. The other campuses made the list in 2008. UMass Medical was the first medical school in the country to receive this classification.

Colleges and universities participate in this process by submitting extensive data and documentation. Of the total 361 campuses to make the 2015 list, 148 are private and 213 public institutions. There are more than 4,100 degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States.

UMass Chairman of the Board of Trustees Henry M. Thomas III said, "One of the wonderful things about UMass is its geographical reach, the fact that it spans the Commonwealth. I am pleased that on each of our campuses, our students are out there every day, donating their time to improve their communities and make a difference in people's lives."

Students and faculty on the five UMass campus volunteer hundreds of thousands of hours to provide service to their respective communities. Here are only a very few samples of the many and varied community service projects on each campus that serve the Commonwealth.

  • UMass Amherst: Works with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hampshire County in a program that seeks to match UMass students who are adopted with adopted children in the community. Matched across a variety of factors, the mentors and children are able to form friendships grounded in the similarities between them, such as gender, race, ethnicity and adoption story.
  • UMass Boston: Has taken a leading role in the Success Boston College Completion Initiative, an unprecedented partnership with 37 Massachusetts colleges and universities, Boston Public Schools, city government, local foundations and nonprofits. The initiative aims to double the college graduation rate of Boston Public Schools students and helps students transition into the university environment, by becoming an active partner in their education.
  • UMass Dartmouth: Played an active role in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). More than 30 students prepared taxes for low income residents in New Bedford giving back $1.5 million in tax credits that would not have been achieved. The VITA Program at UMass Dartmouth is run jointly by the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and the Community Economic Development Center in New Bedford. The program is sponsored by the IRS and generally offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
  • UMass Lowell: UMass Lowell has collaborated for 27 years with the National Park Service through the experiential-education programs of the Tsongas Industrial History Center. The partnership strengthens K-12 education and the quality of teaching in history and the sciences. The combined resources of UMass Lowell and the National Park Service has resulted in a nationally recognized model of experiential learning and teacher development. More than 60,000 students and teachers participate in programs each year, and a special relationship with the Lowell Public Schools has enhanced history and technology education for local students. The partnership also provides a learning and research laboratory in education pedagogy for UMass Lowell students as well as faculty in engineering, history, the sciences and other areas.
  • UMass Medical School: Leads the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative (WPC), which has worked with the Worcester Public Schools since 1996 to prepare, educate and train K-12 students in the "North Quadrant" of the public schools for the region's health care and science oriented economy. The WPC features especially intensive involvement in the Worcester East Middle, Worcester Technical High School and North High School.

For more information on the Carnegie 2015 Community Engagement Classification:

Contact: Jan Brogan, 617-287-4027