Williams College Receives Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Distinction

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Williams College to receive its Community Engagement Classification. Williams was one of 240 institutions to earn this distinction in 2015, 83 of them for the first time.

Williams received the award in recognition of its focus on community engagement within and beyond its curriculum.  For consideration, Williams provided the foundation with descriptions of its various engagement efforts, such as the student-run Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus (WRAPS), the longstanding Clinical and Community Psychology course, and the Class of 1959 Teach New York Program, as well as major annual projects such as Lehman Community Engagement’s Great Day of Service and the Zilkha Center’s Winter Blitz, in which teams of students, faculty, staff, and community members help weatherize the homes of low-income residents throughout Berkshire County. A number of outreach partnerships have lasted 10 years or more.

Williams’ classification is in part due to the efforts of the Center for Learning in Action, which was established in 2013. The distinction recognizes the work of academic departments and extracurricular centers and programs across the college, including the Chaplains’ Office, Davis Center, Zilkha Center, Career Center, Dining Services, Williams Outing Club and the Office of Student Life.

“Williams is very proud to have received this important recognition for the wonderful work that our students, staff, and faculty do in our communities regionally and abroad,” said Stephen Klass, vice president for campus life at Williams. “It’s hard to imagine a more effective linking of the curricular and co-curricular elements of the student experience than the work that is supported by the Center for Learning in Action and student-led organizations such as Lehman Community Engagement. We’re deeply grateful to the Carnegie Foundation for their recognition and support.”

In addition to its outreach programs, the college honors student service through several awards and celebrations. Each year, two students receive awards for outstanding commitment to civic service: the Muhummad Kenyatta 1966 Community Service Prize and the Grosvenor Memorial Cup. President Falk also hosts an annual community engagement event for student leaders of community service

Williams’ mission statement makes explicit the value the college places on nurturing civic virtues, including “commitment to engage both the broad public realm and community life and the skills to do so effectively.”

The Carnegie Foundation first offered its classification in 2006, then again in 2008 and 2010. Institutions are encouraged to apply for re-classification, and with this year’s selection, a total of 361 campuses are now classified. The foundation seeks to advance the performance of educational systems by building their capacity to improve.

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