AZUSA, Calif. — The Carnegie Foundation named Azusa Pacific University as 1 of 115 institutions in its 2010 Community Engagement Classification. This is the most prestigious distinction in the United States recognizing outstanding university commitment to community service and service-learning.

APU is one of only six California schools named to the list, alongside California State Universities at Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, and Sacramento; the University of Southern California (USC); and Whittier College. According to Carnegie, this year 305 institutions registered to receive the application, 154 institutions applied, and of the total applications, 115 were successfully classified as community-engaged institutions.

Carnegie selects schools that model a mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support “significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement,” according to Carnegie President Anthony Bryk.

“At the core, we hope to instill in Azusa Pacific students a desire to use their gifts to make a difference in the world,” said APU President Jon R. Wallace, DBA. “This distinction recognizes one of the things I love most about our university—that APU students are passionate about serving others and eager to be engaged with the community. For 111 years, our students have worked alongside faculty, staff, and community partners to identify and strive to meet the needs of their neighbors, locally, across the nation, and abroad.”

Since its founding in 1899, Azusa Pacific has remained actively committed to service in the community. Azusa Pacific students annually participate in about 150 service-learning courses across 18 undergraduate departments. In 2009-10, more than 4,000 APU students participated in some type of community engagement, totaling more than 112,000 hours of service in the U.S. and abroad.

According to Judy Hutchinson, Ph.D., executive director of APU’s Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research, the classification marks a significant achievement following recognition by Learn and Serve America’s President’s Honor Roll with distinction for four straight years. “Carnegie is at the forefront of identifying education that makes a difference,” said Hutchinson. “This honor recognizes the positive difference that Azusa Pacific makes in the community, and demonstrates that we are a university that’s serious about service and community engagement.”

Azusa Unified School District (AUSD) Superintendent Cynthia Cervantes-McGuire, who has partnered with APU on numerous university and AUSD community projects, expressed excitement about the distinction.

“A little more than 10 years ago, our board president challenged APU to be good neighbors and viable partners in the Azusa community,” said Cervantes-McGuire. “APU far exceeded anyone’s expectations with scholarships for AUSD graduates, support from nursing and social worker interns, mentoring and tutoring by students, opportunities to participate in the performing arts and in sports, enhancing opportunities for our G.A.T.E. students by hosting the summer program at the university, and many other projects and programs. The many partnerships that exist demonstrate the university’s sustained commitment to full engagement in the community. It is no surprise that APU was selected for this superb recognition.”

A few of APU’s community initiatives and service-learning partnerships include:

  • Adult Ministries: The Adult Ministries program focuses on senior citizens, the developmentally disabled, and individuals who are chronically ill. Students serve in settings such as the San Dimas Retirement Center and VITAS Hospice Care.
  • Azusa Conservatory of Music: APU music students and faculty provide low-cost instrumental and choral instruction to Azusa families who might not otherwise have the opportunity to receive formal music training.
  • Azusa Reads, Azusa Writes, Azusa Calculates, and Azusa Counts: These four tutoring programs offer reading, writing, and math assistance to about 250 local students each semester at the Azusa City Library.
  • C.H.A.M.P.: This nine-week program introduces the idea of college to 600 to 700 at-risk fourth graders from six local elementary schools.
  • City Links: This is a one-day service experience for all first-year students at APU as they are introduced to the local community that will become home during their APU experience.
  • =Environmental Ministries: Students participate in activities that help improve the community, including teaching educational classes at local schools and working together to grow plants and vegetables in the community garden.
  • Missions Trips: Each year, more than 200 students, faculty, and staff participate in short-term missions trips around the world.
  • Neighborhood Wellness Center: This joint effort between the city of Azusa and APU’s School of Nursing provides health education and care to Azusa residents.

About the Community Engagement Classification
Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an “elective” classification—institutions chose to participate by submitting required documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community. (See Carnegie's official release here.)

About the Carnegie Foundation
The Stanford, Calif.-based Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.