Community and Civic Engagement (CCE) Plan:
Institutionalizing Public Engagement
University of Northern Colorado has at the very core of its mission and identity a commitment to shaping educational change (Larson, 1989) and to education innovation in the public interest. UNC has grown from a teacher preparation and normal school at the turn of last century, into a doctoral intensive university preparing education professionals, nurses, community health experts, graduates, researchers and citizens in a broad spectrum of disciplines. Moreover, UNC’s distinctive role and its investment in public education centers on the notion of transformative education by being an “exemplary teaching and learning community,” as envisioned in UNC’s Academic Plan (2012).
Never before has the need for UNC to reaffirm our commitment as a public institution, educating and serving in the public good, been more pressing. Higher Education is experiencing an identity crisis in the face of public concerns about its relevance and efficacy (Beere et al., 2011; Furco, 2010; The Economist, 2012), rapid declines in state funding of public institutions, and political pressure to limit indicators of success to alignment with the current job market and graduates’ income data. Notwithstanding this predicament, UNC is well positioned to reassert our purpose and place as a distinctive university that values community engagement as meaningful and relevant to transformational education, translational research, innovation, and the public good.
Community and Civic Engagement (CCE) is one of the nine strategic plans, outlined in our university’s planning process. A growing body of research and practice shows that teaching, research and service learning activities engaged in local or global communities are high-impact practices. As part of the committee’s work we are inviting members of our campus community to contribute their voices to the planning process and to offer constructive feedback on the CCE Plan now in circulation.
The plan is informed by our UNC institutional history and distinctive identity, by other ongoing campus wide initiatives, by feedback gathered from prior data, a campus listening tour, and by the experiences of other institutions of higher education as they have infused public engagement into all aspects of their campuses. The plan is a plan for the next three years, intended to guide the infusion of engagement on our campus.