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Washington State University
Washington State University Office of the Provost

InitiativesCarnegie Classification

Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

What does this recognition mean?

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification recognizes institutions that have prioritized engaged scholarship, teaching, learning and outreach. The classification is not an award. It is an elective, evidence-based self-assessment and quality improvement process that highlights institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. As of January 2024, there were 453 public, private, and tribal institutions recognized with this classification. Washington State University (WSU) was first recognized with the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement in 2008, and this was renewed in 2015. WSU is the longest recognized university in the state of Washington and shares this designation with five other public and private higher education institutions in the state.

What is community engagement?

We define community engagement as a relationship-based collaboration between Washington State University faculty, staff, and students and local, tribal, state, national, and global partners for the mutually beneficial, sustained exchange of knowledge and resources. Community engagement builds deep, trusted relationships with partners to collaboratively enrich scholarship and research, enhance curriculum and teaching, disseminate programs and practices, prepare engaged and educated citizens, and address critical societal issues to contribute to the public good.

Why is this classification important for faculty and the university?

Most importantly, this classification represents a highly prestigious outside validation that what we do is truly aligned with the mission and values of Washington State University. This designation also elevates the prestige of WSU that is important to attract and retain faculty who are passionate about making a positive impact beyond academia while attracting funding opportunities that prioritize applications from institutions with high levels of community engagement. The commitments that underly this classification also support enhanced teaching and research because of the opportunities for real-world experiences that lead to collaborative projects, interdisciplinary initiatives and student service learning that addresses community needs while enriching the academic experience for both faculty and students.

What is happening now?

The WSU System Strategic Plan includes Strategic Direction 3 (Impact; Community and Global Engagement) under which Objective 4 calls for building and strengthening WSU’s systems and processes to support WSU’s application and recognition as a Carnegie Classified Community-Engaged Institution in the 2026 cycle. That is, our community engagement remains a strong part of the WSU identity and this extends across the system. We have initiated a process to collect data, fine-tune our programs, continue future planning, and apply for reclassification in January 2025.

What are we doing differently than before?

While we WSU has been recognized as a community engaged institution longer than any other university or college in Washington State, we have fallen short with sharing the incredible stories about what we do so well for the state, and other communities in the U.S. and abroad. As part of our application efforts for reclassification, we are building a sustainable platform that will widely share our stories, while also serving as a portal to identify new opportunities for engagement, and to invite others to join with WSU in long-term, mutually beneficial, and respectful partnerships for the good of our communities.