Iowa State Recognized Nationally for Community Engagement Efforts



AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has earned reclassification as a “Community Engaged University” from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The 10-year reclassification recognizes Iowa State’s commitment to community engagement through teaching and learning, research, extension and outreach, and economic development programs.

“Iowa State is proud of its many community partnerships, from our strong ‘town and gown’ relationship with the City of Ames, to our new partnership with Des Moines’ elementary schools to improve college affordability and access, and our international commitment to help Ugandan farmers grow sustainable crops,” said President Steven Leath. “These partnerships are significant because they reflect our land-grant ideals of education, research and economic development, and sharing our expertise to make Iowa and the world a better place.”

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the university’s primary community engagement arm, delivers programming through the university’s academic colleges and units, and offices in every Iowa county. The program focuses on four areas:

  • 4-H Youth Development. One in five Iowa school-age youth are involved in 4-H programs that emphasize service learning, healthy choices and active citizenship.
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Beginning Farmer Center works with farmers who want to transition their farm business to the next generation and to new people who want to find their place in agriculture.
  • Community and Economic Development. Extension and Outreach helps Latino entrepreneurs start or improve their own businesses, and educates Latino residents through leadership development, New Iowan outreach, and health programs.
  • Human Sciences. Iowans improve their knowledge and skills in family life, nutrition and health, and family finance through nearly 100,000 Extension and Outreach delivered Human Sciences learning opportunities.

Iowa State received its initial Carnegie engagement classification in 2008. The university also is a member of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, an international organization of higher education institutions formed to advance university-community efforts, and the Iowa Campus Compact, a coalition of Iowa colleges and institutions working together to educate active citizens and positively impact communities.

Iowa State interacts with the community through each of its colleges and units. Recent examples include:

  • Extension and Outreach. Extension and Outreach, Iowa State’s primary engagement arm, fulfills the university’s land-grant mission through practical, how-to education based on powerful university research in all 99 counties.
  • Economic Development. Nearly 1,300 businesses from 94 Iowa counties worked with the Center for Industrial Research and Service last year, generating $446 million in total economic impact, and adding or retaining 6,800 jobs. The Small Business Development Center worked with more than 2,500 clients in 2013, helping start 209 new businesses, add 1,100 jobs and raise $48 million in capital.
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods empowers people in developing countries to improve their quality of life. Through internships, fellowships, and service learning projects, Iowa State students help tackle some of the world’s most significant problems.
  • College of Business. Students and faculty working with the Small Business Development Center and the new CyBiz Laboratory partner with Iowa industries both large and small to help address their business needs.
  • College of Design. Nearly 36,000 local leaders are making a difference in their communities, thanks to training from the university’s community and economic development specialists. The College of Design students also work with Iowa communities to strengthen local economies and revitalize rural downtowns through the Iowa Retail Initiative.
  • College of Engineering. Engineering professors in the Virtual Reality Applications Center have established training tools to help firefighters, police, paramedics and the military establish decision-making skills with more speed and safety than simply learning on the job.
  • College of Human Sciences. The ISU 4U Promise program, a partnership between the School of Education and two highly impacted elementary schools in Des Moines, provides practical learning for Iowa State students and practicum teachers while at the same time providing financial opportunities that make college attainable for diverse students.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary medicine experts provide care and advice for Iowa pets and livestock, train tomorrow’s leaders in veterinary medicine, and pursue answers to some of society’s most vexing animal and human health challenges. The college frequently provides community services such as offering free eye exams for service dogs.
  • Research programs. The National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals works with crop producers and industry to develop the tools and materials to transform feedstocks into biobased chemicals.