The University of Southern Mississippi has been honored with the prestigious Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for the many ways in which its students, faculty, staff and programs engage and enhance the people and places of South Mississippi and beyond.
“This is a classification and indication that Southern Miss does an extremely good job of connecting with our community and our constituents,” explained Joshua Duplantis, assistant director of the Union and programs for the Office of Community Service Learning. “This reflects an institutional commitment by the university and President Martha Saunders.”
In order to be selected, institutions were required to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that demonstrated alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. This marks the first time Southern Miss has been honored with the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.
“The University of Southern Mississippi cherishes its connections to the greater community,” said Saunders. “This distinction is a testament to the efforts of our students, faculty and staff to strengthen the communities which have supported Southern Miss through its first century.”
Southern Miss has long been a state leader in service learning and volunteerism as was evident by the 2010 Big Event in which hundreds of volunteers took part in a university-wide community service project in both Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast. However, the Carnegie classification puts Southern Miss on a national stage by bringing into focus the myriad of programs through which the university offers its expertise to others. Among the noted programs are:
· National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) which offers cutting-edge technology and programs to secure sports patrons and venues
· The Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development & Entrepreneurship which is creating a climate that provides more jobs for graduates and is nurturing ideas into viable businesses
“We went beyond the community service and volunteer programs in cataloguing the impact made by Southern Miss. We included our Center for Human Rights, Center for Black Studies, the Luckyday Scholars Program, our Faculty Fellows Program, plus the arts and athletics which bring enjoyment to large audiences. This was an all-encompassing look at the contributions of Southern Miss,” declared Duplantis.
The Carnegie Foundation selected 115 U.S. colleges and universities for its 2010 Community Engagement Classification. These institutions join the 196 institutions identified in the 2006 and 2008 selection process. “Through a classification that acknowledges significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching encourages colleges and universities to become more deeply engaged, to improve teaching and learning and to generate socially responsive knowledge to benefit communities,” said Carnegie President Anthony Bryk. “We are very pleased with the movement we are seeing in this direction.”