Commitment to communities

Nine presidents from Utah’s public universities met, Feb. 19, 2016, at the state Capitol to renew their promise to serve others. The event comes on the 20th anniversary of Utah’s involvement in the Utah Campus Compact, an initiative supporting faculty and students by increasing community engagement. The compact helps member institutions build reciprocal partnerships with local communities and address unmet needs, while enhancing the institution’s own learning and scholarship.

“The Utah Campus Compact has done what no institution has the power to do on its own: catalyze a shared statewide conversation among higher education institutions about the value of community engagement, both for our own goals of teaching and learning and for the well-being of our broader communities,” said University of Utah President David W. Pershing, the group’s current chair. “By leading this conversation, Utah Campus Compact not only helps to strengthen our institutions, it strengthens our whole state.”

Over the past 20 years the organization members have impacted their communities in a variety of ways and have data that proves their success. They have three student development programs, three faculty and administrator development opportunities and have conferred 45 community engagement awards. In 2015 students participating in the compact’s AmeriCorps VISTA project logged a staggering 990,200 hour of service by 34,000 students. In 2016 the group will award students more than $1 million in scholarships.

Announced at the event were four strategic points to accompany the renewed vision and mission of the member universities:

  • Affirm the public purpose of higher education
  • Promote deeper, more integrated community engagement
  • Foster an active membership network
  • Build the capacity of Utah Campus Compact

Those strategic points will help the compact to continue its mission of cross institutional collaboration. “Our institutions may be competitive with one another when it comes to athletics and academic rankings,” said Utah state Sen. Ann Milner at the event. “But when it comes to community engagement we know we can only achieve our best work as partners and collaborators.”