Cox Hall. Photo by Jason Oh

Cox Hall. Photo by Jason Oh

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized Emory for its 2015 Community Engagement Classification along with 239 other universities in the country this past weekend.

Recognized for the first time in 2006, Emory was only eligible to reapply this past year because the foundation states you can only receive classification every 10 years.

The Carnegie Foundation evaluates institutions on their mission and efforts to engage their communities based on detailed data universities voluntarily send. The foundation does not award but instead recognizes applicants that meet its standards for community engagement and sends notes for the institution to self-assess and improve for the future.

The foundation applauded Emory for its “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement,” according to a Jan. 14 press release.

According to Director of Operations at the Center for Community Partnership (CFCP) Martha Sweatman, members of the CFCP at Emory got together two years ago to compile a “rigorous” 50-page application highlighting the many community engagement initiatives over the past nine years.

They found that Emory Healthcare provided $80.3 million in charity care in 2011-2012 alone. That is not including the $25.7 million of pro bono care that Emory medical staff contributed at Grady Memorial Hospital that same year.

The Community Change and Social Fellows, an undergraduate program at Emory launched in 2002, also finished more than 40 projects in local communities while working with partner organizations, according to CFCP.

Volunteer Emory also rallied more 3,100 students, faculty and staff to complete 17,000 hours of service in 2011-2012.

These initiatives are not limited to the greater Atlanta area, but many reach other states in the southeast as well.

“What I appreciate about Emory is our continuous commitment to social justice and identifying ways to continuously grow and learn,” said Associate Director of Student Life and Leadership and Volunteer Emory Coordinator Lisa Kendall. “As a campus community, we value understanding systemic issues and working towards creating a more just society.”

“One of the founding principles of the Center for Community Partnerships was to foster the integration of teaching, research and service,” said Executive Director for the Center for Community Partnerships Michael Rich. “And by doing so, make it easier for all types of students to foster stronger linkages between their passions and interests with their academic studies.”

Volunteer Emory makes up a large portion of the university’s community involvement, according to CFCP. Volunteer Emory hosts an array of weekend and alternative break service trips.

Students can also engage in service days such as Emory’s Day On this past Monday, where students worked with local service groups in the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“What is unique about Volunteer Emory is the ethos of participation,” Executive Director of Volunteer Emory Rebecca Du said. “It’s not just volunteering but community engagement. We want to avoid creating a hierarchy with the idea of us helping them. Instead, we are working with the people in our community. We want to understand what they actually need rather than imposing our preconceived notions on what we think they need.”

Emory will retain its Community Engagement Classification until 2025, after which the University can re-apply according to the Carnegie Foundation.

“This is an incredible recognition to continue to have within the community of other higher education institutions,” Kendall said. “It truly shows Emory’s sustained commitment to community engagement.”

– By Sarah Husain, Contributing Writer