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President Jones Moves UAlbany Community Engagement Forward

President Jones chats with an old colleague, Dr. Andrew Furco, associate vice president for public engagement at the University of Minnesota, in the Campus Center Assembly Hall on April 2.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 9, 2013) – University at Albany President Robert Jones recently completed a series of campus conversations to advance the University's progress as a community-engaged research university. The sessions, which featured Dr. Andrew Furco, associate vice president for Public Engagement, University of Minnesota, and a global scholar in the field, helped the campus explore what the next level of community engagement at UAlbany might look like.

"One of UAlbany’s core values - community and public engagement - is in my DNA," said President Jones. “Many of the economic and societal issues facing our communities, universities and country are too large for a single institution to solve in isolation. I believe that our faculty and administration possess the knowledge and expertise to help our communities solve these issues."

An audience of approximately 200 people attended the Uptown Campus forum “Strengthening University Impact through Public Engagement” on April 3. President Jones commended the outstanding programs at UAlbany which he said are essential for providing a framework for engaged work.

He also indicated the importance of systems, collective effort, and reciprocal partnerships for institutionalization. He suggested the idea of an urban agenda to help revitalize the region and beyond, and indicated his desire to continue dialogues about UAlbany’s engagement.

Dr. Furco discussed engagement not as an end in itself, but as a strategy that can help achieve academic and research goals, student recruitment and retention, and other critical parts of our mission, illustrating the possibilities in UAlbany’s strategic plan. Dr. Furco, a faculty member at UMN, presented to audiences of about 100 participants each in sessions on “Teaching with Impact,” and “Scholarship with Impact.” He noted how a research university and the public both benefit from work that addresses critical issues in society and students who study outside the classroom.

The overall series was co-hosted by the offices of the President and the Provost, the Campus Committee on University Community-Engagement (CCUCE), and the Executive Committee of the University Senate. For the two special sessions, Senate Councils joined in as additional co-hosts for Teaching with Impact: The University Senate Undergraduate Academic Council and the Graduate Academic Council, and Scholarship with Impact: The University Senate Council on Promotions and Continuing Appointments and the Council on Research.

President Jones in the Ballroom

President Jones addresses a large University audience in the Campus Center Ballroom on April 3, in a forum entitled "Strengthening University Impact Through Public Engagement." (Photos by Mark Schmidt)

The next step is for the CCUCE , co-chaired by Miriam Trementozzi, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement in the President’s Office, and Robert Bangert-Drowns, Dean of the School of Education, to develop recommendations drawing on the series of discussions. CCUCE works to improve systems, coordination and culture for advancing engaged work with local-to-global impact.

In addition to this critical internal discussion, President Jones is conducting a nine-county tour of the Capital District to become better acquainted with the region’s educational, cultural, business, civic, and recreational assets. He kicked off the tour on March 27 in Greene County, visited Schenectady County on April 8, and will continue through June with visits to Warren, Washington, Columbia, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schoharie, and Albany counties.

During each tour, President Jones and a delegation of University faculty, students, staff, and alumni will meet with community colleges, high schools, businesses, and community organizations, as well as University scholarship programs.

Currently, President Jones is inviting campus nominations for the President's Awards for Exemplary Community Engagement. These awards will honor individuals and projects and programs that have made "exemplary contributions to addressing a significant societal need and enhancing public well-being through community-engaged research, creative activity, teaching, academic study and/or public service."