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Saint Louis University Earns National Distinction for Community Engagement

by Maggie Rotermund on 01/08/2024
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ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis University has earned the Carnegie Foundation’s 2024 Community Engagement Classification.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced the classifications on Monday, Jan. 8. The elective designation is awarded by Carnegie and the American Council on Education (ACE). 

Saint Louis University

The classification highlights an institution’s commitment to community engagement. SLU first earned the prestigious distinction in 2015 and, with the 2024 reclassification, remains one of 368 campuses nationwide currently holding the classification.

“This honor reflects SLU’s institutional commitment to the community-centered work of our faculty, staff and students,” said Leah Sweetman, Ph.D., director of community-engaged learning in SLU’s Center for Social Action. “SLU takes community service seriously and every part of the University is engaged with this mission.”

Sweetman said the reclassification process required a self-study of SLU’s community engagement. The process was led by the Center for Social Action with assistance and direction from the Provost and President’s Office. Schools and colleges across SLU also contributed to the report.

“We did a deep dive into the work SLU does, from direct service to how the institution acknowledges faculty doing community-engaged scholarship,” Sweetman said. “Carnegie looks not only at community engagement at the University-wide level, but also collaborations and community partnerships undertaken on a smaller scale.”

The report highlighted SLU’s work on issues like food insecurity through Campus Kitchen and Billiken Bounty and community improvement through initiatives like Habitat for Neighborhood Business, SLU Legal Clinics, and the engagement efforts of the St. Louis Midtown Redevelopment Corporation with SLU’s residential neighbors.

“This recognition tells us in many ways what we already know – that SLU faculty, staff, students and alumni take seriously our ethos of being people for others,” Sweetman said. “The classification also challenges us to remain community-centered and always strive for improvement.”

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is awarded following a process of evaluation and review. SLU’s application highlighted alignment between campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices. 

The classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 19 years. SLU’s current classification is valid until 2032.

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 15,200 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better place.