Academic Community Engagement

Siena was recently notified after a lengthy and intensive application process that its Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been renewed.

The classification highlights an institution’s commitment to community engagement and serving the public good. Only 368 campuses in the country are currently active holders of this important designation, which is awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

Allison Schultz, director of Siena’s Center for Academic Community Engagement (ACE), and Maggie Cross, director of student activities and leader development, spearheaded the self-study application process for renewal of the classification, which was initially awarded to Siena in 2015.
“We are so excited to learn that Siena has earned the Carnegie Classification for the second time,” said Schultz. “This classification cements Siena's place in the Capital Region as a leading partner in reciprocal, sustainable, and transformational collaborations with nonprofit organizations and community members.”

To apply for renewal, a campus-wide committee worked together for several months to document the ways Siena engages with the community through service and research.

“The results highlighted how these partnerships enhance student learning and faculty scholarship and pedagogy,” she said. “Siena students, faculty, staff, and administrators have multiple pathways for developing and practicing their community engagement skills, all of which assist them to grow as agents of community change and put Siena's Franciscan values into action.”

Cross noted that the application process allowed Siena to communicate “how much excellent community-engaged work is taking place at Siena and the surrounding community.” 

“It is a wonderful feeling to see our Franciscan values lived out through so many robust opportunities, and to see this work validated by an organization like Carnegie,” she said. 

Siena Provost Margaret Madden, Ph.D. acknowledged the College’s ongoing and impactful community engagement.

“I offer a heartfelt thanks to Allison and Maggie for seeing this lengthy renewal process through,” she said. “I look forward to continuing our efforts to coordinate Siena’s service work in the community.”

The Carnegie Classifications are used by policymakers, funders, and researchers as a critical benchmarking tool for postsecondary institutions. Two years ago, the classifications were reimagined to better reflect the diversity of postsecondary institutions and more completely characterize the impact that today’s institutions have in society.

Each year, a number of Siena students have the opportunity to participate in community-engaged research and service, through programs organized by Siena’s ACE Center.
“Community engagement allows me to connect with and understand the wider community that I have become a part of by coming to Siena,” said NExT fellow Aleksandra Wojtowycz ’25. “Learning to connect with people through community engagement has been extremely beneficial to me academically, professionally and personally, but most importantly they allow me to better understand the needs of my local community, which can help inform the ways my future work can meet those needs.”

Bonner service leader Abby James-Vickery ’25 said community engagement has shaped who she is as a student and future professional.

“I have learned how to communicate and how to work well with people from various backgrounds,” she explained. “I have learned how to do my part in communities and how to support them, and I have learned so much about empathy and selflessness through this work. I am forever grateful for the community engagement opportunities Siena has given me.”