University Recognized for Commitment to the Public Good

Suffolk again selected for Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

Suffolk’s ongoing commitment to community and service has earned the University its second Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a designation held by only 359 higher education institutions nationwide.

The classification, recognizes “dynamic and noteworthy community engagement,” which Suffolk University fulfills through the efforts of a vibrant Center for Community Engagement and robust Law School clinical and pro bono programs. Faculty research throughout the University also benefits the public good. And in a university that emphasizes the value of experiential education, faculty and staff embrace service learning as an essential dimension of the Suffolk experience.

“Creating opportunity has been ingrained in the Suffolk story right from the start,” said Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly, a champion of community engagement who ensured that service-learning was incorporated into a strategic plan formulated this past year. “We strive to create experiences that benefit students and communities alike. This spirit of service is something our graduates carry with them throughout their lives.”

The University first received the Community Engagement Classification in 2010.

Carnegie Foundation seal in green with the words Elective Community Engagement Classification

Strong commitment

The report prepared for its 2020 reclassification demonstrated an ever-deepening commitment to community engagement, which the Carnegie guidelines describe as “the partnership (of knowledge and resources) between colleges and universities and the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”
Villagers and students in front of completed bamboo house
Students and villagers in Myanmar celebrate the completion of a home built during the 2020 Alternative Winter Break program through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

In evaluating its community engagement performance for Carnegie review, the University cited activities ranging from investigating housing discrimination in Boston to building homes internationally through Habitat for Humanity; from working with underserved students to make them college-ready to tutoring young children through the JumpStart program. Voter registration drives, published research on service learning, and public forums on current affairs also were cited.

The classification study looks at data related to community engagement, and a striking bit of evidence showed that, while self-evaluations as students enter the University indicate they are at or under the mean in engagement skills, graduating students have developed these skills to a level at or higher than peer institutions.

Students in Service Day T-shirts wave larger-than-life-size crayons
Students volunteer regularly at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that tends to the needs of disadvantaged children, and the organization is one of many served during Suffolk's annual Service Day. 

The yearlong process of applying for reclassification involved 20 faculty, staff from across campus, as well as students and a community partner who worked together to evaluate the many facets of the University’s community engagement, related data, and impact on the community and campus, according to Adam Westbrook, director of Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement and cochair of the Carnegie Committee.
Group of students at Lincoln Monument in Washington DC
Service and learning go hand in hand during Suffolk's Alternative Spring Break programs. Here students visit the Lincoln Memorial, and they will reflect both on their service projects and the figures that inspire them during the weeklong experience.

The current Carnegie classification extends through 2026. A letter announcing Suffolk’s selection cited the University’s “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”

Community Engagement in Action


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs