UAB has been selected for the 2008 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The designation recognizes UAB’s community engagement across its curricula and its outreach and partnerships with the community.
UAB is one of only 10 universities nationally that appears in both the Community Engagement Classification and the Carnegie Research Extensive classification, which recognizes a “very high” level of research activity.
“This designation by the Carnegie Foundation affirms UAB’s commitment to providing an educational experience that prepares students for productive and meaningful careers and lives that benefit society,” said UAB President Carol Garrison. “It also recognizes our long-standing resolve for our faculty, staff and students to be of value to our community at home and around the world.”
UAB initiatives in the area of curricular engagement include its Quality Enhancement Plan, which prepares students for future civic involvement and leadership, and community service projects that run the gamut from health screenings to numerous community-service projects. Recognition for such involvement by students and faculty is acknowledged with awards such as the UAB Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award.
UAB initiatives in the area of outreach and partnership include:
- School of Education – The Center for Urban Education coordinates a number of different projects involving outreach to K-12 schools such as Camp TNT, a summer camp for children who have difficulty communicating due to cerebral palsy, autism and other physical and cognitive disabilities. The children learn how to use different technologies such as Wii systems, talking books, communication boards and MP3 players. Girls Engaged in Math and Science (GEMS) is funded by a grant from the Malone Family Foundation and trains teachers throughout Alabama to create math and science lesson plans to engage K-12 girls in math and science.
- School of Business – The Center for Economic Education is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization within the Department of Marketing and Industrial Distribution. It promotes economic and financial literacy by providing continuing economic education resources for K-12 teachers. Also, students in the Department of Management and Organization partner with local businesses, many in low-income communities, to help business owners develop mission statements and strategic plans. Students in the Department of Finance, Economic and Quantitative Methods visit area elementary schools to teach economic skills to students. The Department of Accounting and Information Systems trains students to assist low-income Birmingham-area residents with tax preparation.
- School of Engineering – Students and faculty participate in the international Engineers Without Borders program, which sends students to Third World countries to help communities build safe drinking water wells and other infrastructures and to provide education on safe water usage. UAB School of Public students also participate. Blazer BEST Robotics is a local hub for the national program that promotes engineering and mathematics in middle- and high-school classrooms. Participating schools build robots for the competition with parts supplied at no cost by UAB. More than 25 area K-12 schools participated in the 2008 competition.
- School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics – Computer Science summer camps bring middle school students from throughout Central Alabama together for a week of robot building and video game development to promote math and science in K-12 classrooms. One research project, the Consortium for the Advancement of Education in Computer Science, is funded by a $1 million NSF grant. It is developing a high-quality and engaging program that will introduce high-school students to concepts in computer science and provide them with a mathematics foundation for IT-related education and careers. Professors throughout the school work with many local education endeavors, including McWane Center programs and mentorships with students at area school science fairs.
- School of Social & Behavioral Sciences – Faculty and students in Justice Sciences, Public Administration and the Center for Urban Affairs design and conduct programs for the Jefferson County Family Court and other governmental and non-profit agencies. In the Global Community Leadership Honors Program, students learn about the histories of several metro area communities from the residents themselves. Armed with video cameras, students interview residents about urban renewal.
- School of Arts & Humanities –UAB Theatre students participate each year in touring theatre ensembles that travel to counties throughout the state offering live theatre performances at schools, after-school programs, community centers, nursing homes, parks and libraries, essentially free of charge. The Department of Music makes more than 150 public appearances a year, most of which are free to the community. The music department also offers two honor band weekends and an honor choir weekend for the best-of-the-best high-school musicians. This program offers high-school students a chance to be pushed a little further musically and helps improve their musical ability and growth.
In addition, UAB has an economic impact of more than $3 billion dollars a year and through its engagement with the community increases the capacity of the region to grow. Examples include the Innovation Depot, a business incubation facility and program that focuses on the development of emerging biotechnology/life sciences, information technology and other businesses.
“Community engagement is an integral part of the UAB culture,” said Philip Way, associate provost for undergraduate programs. “This designation acknowledges what we are doing across campus with our students and for our local community and beyond.”