Since 2012, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement has worked to institutionalize the culture of engagement at UM.
The UM Council on Community Engagement advises the McLean Institute and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement on how to strengthen the culture of engagement on campus. COCE members represent faculty, staff, and students from across campus, and have developed Common Definitions to expand the conversation around community engagement. COCE members have served as champions to advance the application process to obtain the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement.
The University of Mississippi also celebrates service and engagement with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and the Excellence in Community Engagement Awards. These honors and initiatives elevate service and community-engaged work that enhances quality of life and community wellbeing across Mississippi.
Community engagement is a big phrase that occurs in many different forms, but the essential feature of community engagement is easy to understand. Simply put, it is a partnership between UM scholars and non-higher education collaborators.
Community engagement occurs when UM faculty, staff, and/or students partner with non-higher education collaborators in the public or private sectors to accomplish a goal that benefits all parties. These partnerships evolve over time, and the types of partnership include: outreach, consulting, involvement, shared leadership, and community-driven. No single type of partnership is better than the other types. Instead, the partnership type is shaped by the duration and shared goals of the relationship.
Communities are not limited to geographically defined areas. Communities also include individuals or groups connected by shared interests or practices, situational similarities, or even culture and beliefs.
Community engagement occurs within all facets of the University’s research, learning, and service missions. Community engagement advances UM’s mission while benefiting society through the discovery, development, and/or dissemination of knowledge that ultimately improves the learning, behavior, and conditions of individuals and communities.
Whenever a University of Mississippi student, staff, or faculty member collaborates with a community partner to accomplish a goal that benefits all parties – that is community engagement.