Tufts Named a Top Institution for Community Engagement

The Carnegie Classification recognizes the university-community partnerships that advance the public good

Tufts University has been named one of 40 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification from the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The classification recognizes an institution of higher education’s commitment to collaborating with its local, national, and global communities. It assesses how well colleges and their communities share resources and knowledge to enrich research, enhance teaching, strengthen civic responsibility, address critical societal issues, and contribute to the public good. 

“Engagement touches every aspect of our work as a university,” said Tufts University President Sunil Kumar. “We want every student at Tufts to have a civic pathway, no matter their major or degree program, and we support them with every step.”

For Tufts, this classification is a reaffirmation, as the university has held the designation since 2015. This year’s classifications and re-classifications bring to 368 the number of institutions with the designation.

“We recognize these institutions for their exceptional commitment to community engagement, and their work to transform knowledge into meaningful action,” Timothy Knowles, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, said in a statement.

Many of Tufts’ community programs and civic engagement initiatives are spearheaded and supported by its Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. Through the Tisch Scholars Program and Tisch Summer Fellows, the college provides opportunities for students to ground their academic work in real-world experiences in the community. The Tisch College Community Research Center conducts community-based participatory research, in which community partners, working with faculty across Tufts’ schools, are involved in all aspects of a study. 

A student carries a basket of water plants

Kyrielle W. Lord, E24, worked with the Mystic River Watershed Association and their volunteer groups to remove invasive water chestnuts plants from the river in 2022. Photo: Alonso Nichols

As Tisch College Dean Dayna Cunningham described it in an address, “Tufts University has, in its core DNA, an unparalleled ethic and commitment to cultivating citizenship. It seeks to embed the values and skills of civic engagement into all corners of a transformational, world-class education.”

In that way, all the Tufts schools and colleges work to prepare students for a lifetime of civic engagement. For example, the School of Medicine requires students to complete at least 50 hours of community service learning to graduate. The School of Dental Medicine, through the Tufts Community Outreach program, delivers on-site dental health services to high-risk populations in schools, Head Start programs, adult day activity centers, sheltered workshops, and community residences. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine partners with local schools, where veterinary students educate young people about topics in STEM fields and careers in veterinary medicine.

The strength of Tufts’ community relationships was notable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the university was a leader in working with its host cities of Medford and Somerville to create solutions, including developing an innovative and free pooled testing program for pre-K-12 public schools and offering housing for first responders. 

Tufts and the other schools to receive the classification are enhancing both teaching and research while simultaneously benefiting the wider community, Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said in a statement: “Let us draw inspiration from their remarkable contributions.”

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