WSU Earns Renewal of Prestigious Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

OGDEN, Utah — Weber State University has received the esteemed 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The distinction is an acknowledgement of WSU’s longstanding commitment to the greater Ogden community, the region, the state and the world, as well as its dedication to teaching students through community-engaged learning.

The foundation selects schools that model an “excellent alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement,” according to Carnegie President Anthony Bryk.

Only 361 of the more than 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States carry the designation. WSU first earned the distinction in 2008 but was required to renew its application for classification for 2015.

Every year, Weber State students, faculty and staff extend their reach into communities both near and far. They tutor struggling junior high school students. They survey neighborhoods about community issues. They provide free dental care to children. They build women’s centers in Mozambique, Africa. In 2013-14 alone, more than 6,300 Weber State students contributed more than 176,900 hours of service, which is equivalent to 20 years, two months and six days.

“At Weber State, we are passionate about helping our communities,” said Brenda Kowalewski, director of WSU’s Center for Community Engaged Learning. “It’s a mindset that is deeply woven into the fabric and culture of the university. You’ll find it across campus, across curriculum and across programs. It’s everywhere. We, as an institution, truly ‘walk the walk.’”

The purpose of community-engaged learning is to prepare students to be engaged citizens, and to strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility by addressing community issues. It is facilitated through service, democratic engagement and community research.

“We want to instill a spirit of social responsibility in our students,” Kowalewski said. “We want them to take the knowledge they gain in the classroom and apply it to the communities around them, to use it for the greater good.”

While the Carnegie designation is a classification for institutions of higher education, Kowalewski said that the honor is to be shared with Ogden City, Weber County, Davis County and all of the university’s surrounding communities.

“Community members opened the doors for us to work together, to let our students learn and contribute to their organizations,” Kowalewski said. “They welcomed us. In turn, we have helped them through service, advocacy and research. This designation affirms the reciprocal nature of our relationship.”

Weber State has collaborated on hundreds of projects but has five longstanding partnerships and programs, including:
  • Intermountain Healthcare (IHC): For more than 50 years, IHC and Weber State have partnered to offer outreach education, clinical experiences and guest lectures. They have also worked together to address nursing and medical laboratory scientist shortages.
  • Hill Air Force Base (HAFB): WSU has partnered with HAFB for more than 35 years to address workforce needs and participate in cooperative research.
  • Weber School District: For the past 35 years, schoolchildren in the Weber School District have experienced fun, interactive science activities for free through WSU’s Ott Planetarium.
  • Upward Bound Ogden/Davis: Since 1965, the Upward Bound program at Weber State has helped underrepresented high school students prepare for college.  
  • Community Engaged Leaders: Led by WSU students, the Community Engaged Leaders program has promoted good citizenship for more than 20 years, serving multiple organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Best Buddies, Special Olympics and YMCA.
“These are our ‘bedrock partners,’” Kowalewski said. “They helped us lay a foundation to build upon, and over the years, our partners have grown and evolved.”

While the Carnegie application only allowed for a small sampling of partnerships and projects, Weber State has well over 125, including Youth Impact, Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center, Midtown Community Health Center, Science and Arts in the Parks, the College Town Initiative, the Ogden Migratory Bird Program and more.

On Feb. 18, as part of the College Town Initiative, Ogden City will host an award ceremony at Weber State to celebrate the reclassification and recognize longtime community partners. More details will be issued closer to the date of the event.

In addition to the Carnegie classification, Weber State was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service for the eighth consecutive year.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement.

WSU President Charles A. Wight said it is an honor to receive the two distinctions and a privilege to serve the people of Ogden, the people of Utah and the people of the world.

“More than 125 years ago, a fledgling school known as Weber Stake Academy formed to serve the community’s needs,” he said. “Today, what is now Weber State University remains dedicated to that community through providing quality education, promoting economic development and contributing to the richness of our regional culture. In turn, WSU is grateful for our neighbors’ support and investment, which has been there all along.”

For more information about community-engaged learning at Weber State, visit

For more information about Weber State University, visit

High resolution photos:
Brenda Kowalewski, director, Center for Community Engaged Learning
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Amy Hendricks, Office of Marketing & Communications
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