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Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

Carnegie CEC digital sealCommunity engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
–          Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

The elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification takes place on a five-year cycle, and requires an evidence-based documentation of institutional practice to be used in a process of self-assessment and quality improvement. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching reviews this documentation to determine whether the institution qualifies for recognition as a community engaged institution.

In February 2013 , the campus communities of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture began the documentation process to apply for a joint designation.  On January 7, 2015,  UT’s Knoxville campus communities successfully earned this joint designation for the first time.

Engagement is foundational to our roles as public research universities. The majority of our Top-25 peer institutions have the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.  Nine other institutions in Tennessee also carry the designation.

The classification we have achieved is valid until 2025, at which time we must seek re-classification in order to retain our Community Engagement Classified status.  In order to be re-classified, we will be asked to provide evidence of how community engagement has become even deeper, more pervasive, better integrated, and sustained on our campus.


While preparing the application for Community Engagement Classification, the office compiled a series of exemplary community partnerships that best represent authentic, two-way relationships based on mutuality and reciprocity. They were published throughout the year in a series called “Partnerships That Make A Difference.”