President’s Community Engagement Council Progress Report
2011 - 2012
Co-Chairs: Herman Totten, Vice President for University and Community Affairs, and Celia Williamson, Vice Provost for Educational Innovation
Alignment with the Fourth Bold Goal
While community engagement presents real opportunities for enhancing undergraduate education and research, and even for building efficient and effective operations through partnership, the President’s Community Engagement Council’s mission is most clearly and directly aligned with the fourth bold goal of UNT's strategic plan to: Establish UNT as a nationally recognized, engaged university and regional leader by building and expanding mutually beneficial partnerships and resources.
The council’s challenge in meeting this goal is to develop a sustainable infrastructure that:
- Supports and invigorates existing community outreach and partnerships initiatives
- Identifies and develops new partnerships, with an emphasis on projects that embody reciprocity and mutual benefit
- Develops synergies among projects and partners, leveraging the common effort for the common good
- Increases campus and community awareness of -- and participation in -- these initiatives
Work in the Council’s Inaugural Year
During the formation of the Community Engagement Council, it became apparent that the term “community engagement” has various meanings depending upon the audience and perspective. It was essential for the council to develop a common language and philosophical framework and to examine our current activities in light of the university's renewed commitment to engagement and mutuality. The council’s work in the 2011-12 academic year has been to set the foundation for sustained work, focusing on the creation of:
- Common Values – as expressed in the commitment to a more inclusive philosophy.
- Common Language – in defining terms and articulating a continuum of engagement from outreach to reciprocal partnerships.
- A Common Plan – in the development of a strategic plan to structure and prioritize activities, built upon a framework that develops community within the process of developing the plan, itself.
- Common Tools – including a website that can serve as a communication hub, a vehicle for collecting data, a forum for sharing ideas, and a venue for making connections between potential partners.
- A Common Database – which, when completed, will serve to resource partnerships, inform grant proposals, provide ways to measure success and target our energies.
- A Common Voice - built upon a shared philosophy and embodied in shared activities.
All of these are clearly focused on the Common Benefit of enhanced community engagement.
Working Groups Provide Focus and Guidance
To better accomplish its goals, the council has formed working groups to focus on key areas. Two of these groups have been quite active. The remaining groups will engage more fully once the strategic plan is finalized:
- Strategic Planning: This group, which includes all members of the council, is currently engaged in creating the strategic plan for engagement, using the framework of “Strategic Doing” designed by Jack Ricchuitto at http://strategicdoing365.com/index.html.
- The working group has made significant progress on identifying and developing the “trends, constraints and assets” not only in higher education, but in the greater community. The next step will be “futuring,” which is “creating aligned long, mid and immediate term strategic possibilities, progress indicators, and projects.” The group, in coordination with the greater community, will create a 20-year vision, followed by a two-year plan and then a two-quarter plan, which will be updated on a quarterly basis.
- This activity has been a major part of the council's work this inaugural year and has provided the forum for building the philosophy, vision and frameworks for later work.
- The plan will be presented to the President for approval and then presented to the President’s Cabinet, Provost’s Senior Staff, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Graduate Student Association, Student Government Association and the greater community.
- Economic Development: This group will focus specifically on partnerships that leverage knowledge creation for business and industry applications.
- Engagement Advisory: This group includes a broad variety of key members of the greater community, and will provide strong community voice and guidance to the council.
- Project-Based Learning: This group is focused on engaging the teaching enterprise in the mutually beneficial activities of learning that are anchored in community engagement.
- Technology: This group is focused specifically on leveraging technology in support of the community engagement work, starting with a UNT community engagement website, to be built with the assistance of URCM. The website, which is expected to launch in fall 2012, is designed to:
- Build a database to store, organize, and manage UNT community engagement activities and documents
- Design an interface to present and promote UNT community engagement activities and policies to UNT students, faculty, staff and community partners. It will be used to conduct an internal and external inventory of the activities that connect UNT with its communities, as well as be a point of contact for future and potential community partners.
- Town and Gown: This group will ensure that the Denton community stays "front and center" in UNT's partnerships and collaborative ventures.
Other Councils and Council reports