Whittier College Receives Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification

January 31, 2020

Student playing with two childrenThe Carnegie Foundation has announced that Whittier College is one of the 119 U.S. colleges and universities that receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that demonstrates institutional commitment to community engagement.

“It is an honor to receive the Carnegie Foundation’s classification. Whittier College has a proud tradition of graduating students who are committed global citizens, ready to enthusiastically serve their community and the world,” said Whittier College President Linda Oubré.

At the heart of this mission is Whittier’s Center for Engagement with Communities (CEC). The CEC promotes course-based service learning, internships at non-profits, and faculty-student research on issues that address both compelling needs in the community and enhance academic learning—here and abroad.

For example, the CEC supports more than 25 for-credit service-learning courses across 10 academic departments, and manages six co-curricular programs that provide leadership opportunities for students. The center also promotes initiatives in the community—developed in partnership with local K-12 schools and youth-serving organizations—that address youth literacy, college access, physical activity, and after-school program needs.

“Education can accomplish more than training students for a profession. Students graduate from college understanding that their knowledge and skills serve both their career and for public good,” said Gina-Marie Lopez, interim director of the CEC. “Students tend to see problems in the world and want to fix them. Community engagement led by institutions of higher education helps students acquire the skills needed to make their activism more impactful, learn how to participate in democracy and collaboration with others, and how to be effective change agents.”

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years. Whittier is one of only 52 private institutions among this year’s recipients.

The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

“These newly classified and re-classified institutions are doing exceptional work to forward their public purpose in and through community engagement that enriches teaching and research while also benefiting the broader community,” noted Mathew Johnson, executive director of the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University.

About the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching aims to build a field around the use of improvement science and networked improvement communities to solve long-standing inequities in educational outcomes.

About the Swearer Center for Public Service

In 1986, Brown University President Howard Swearer founded one of the first public service centers in the nation, now named for him — the Swearer Center for Public Service. The Swearer Center is a hub of community, scholarship, and action at Brown University. In 2017, the Swearer Center became the administrative and research home of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

About Whittier College

Founded in 1887, Whittier College is an independent four-year liberal arts college that encourages students to question the world around them and figure out their place in it. Located in the heart of Southern California between bustling Los Angeles and beautiful Orange County, Whittier is distinguished by its small size, energetic faculty, and nationally recognized curriculum. With an emphasis on diversity, community, and curricular innovation, the College’s primary mission is to endow students with the education, skills, and values appropriate for global leadership and service.

About the Whittier College Center for Engagement with Community

The CEC is a collaboration between Whittier College and the educational, civic and public service community organizations of the greater Whittier and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Founded on the principle of reciprocity, the CEC is dedicated to deepening the practice of service and the pursuit of programs and activities based on the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, information and resources.

Photo Credit: Fionna Tejada '22