When the Carnegie Foundation awarded SUNY Oswego its prestigious Community Engagement Classification in January, it recognized that the college has deeply intertwined community engagement in its leadership, curriculum, outreach programs, strategic planning and community partnerships.
â€œStarting with our Engagement 2000 strategic plan, our college has magnified its efforts to put community service, outreach and partnerships at the very center of what we do,â€ President Deborah F. Stanley said. “More and more, our faculty, staff and students are engaging community needs in the classroom, through research and as volunteers.â€
Engagement is one of five pillars in the college’s strategic plan, and it is lived by students and faculty within and beyond their academic pursuits.
For instance, two art students doing student teaching in Oswego City Schools learned that some high school students had been arrested for graffiti in the park. The college students proposed a public mural project for “at risk” teenagers. The project was carried out in partnership with schools and county agencies.
In another example, three communications faculty designed a two-hour workshop on and facilitated communication training for a local bank’s managerial staff.
Last year, more than 1,500 student volunteers and 700 interns were actively involved in the community. More than 81 percent of seniors at Oswego have reported contributing to the welfare of the community during their college career and feeling strongly that these experiences had, in turn, enhanced their own educational and personal growth.
“Because we are in the community, we can respond to community needs,” said Dr. Nola Heidlebaugh, the college’s civic engagement coordinator last year.
College programs responding to community needs include degree programs like engineering, certificate programs like gerontology, and donor-funded scholarship programs. Possibility Scholarships help students from the Oswego and Syracuse school districts who otherwise would not be able to afford college to pursue degrees in science and technology. Festa Graduate Fellowships support students to work with businesses, on public policy issues with legislators or on projects for a non-profit organization.
The college’s Office of Business and Community Relations was established to assess community needs and help meet them, and the Office of Experience-Based Education, the Center for Service Learning and Community Service, the Extended Learning Division, and the Civic Engagement Office all work to establish and coordinate programs and assure the academic quality of partnerships and outreach activities.
A 150-year-old comprehensive college in the State University of New York system, Oswego offers more than 100 academic programs in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; School of Business; School of Communication, Media and the Arts; and School of Education.
The college’s deep engagement with its extended community is one of many reasons SUNY Oswego has been named a “College of Distinction” and U.S. News last year named it among “Top Up-and-Coming Schools.”
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PHOTO CAPTION: Engaging students—In response to needs identified in the region, Dr. Fehmi Damkaci of SUNY Oswego’s chemistry faculty developed the Summer Science Immersion Program for high school students to help close the educational gap in the science and technology fields.
(Posted: Feb 25, 2011)