Leading University Engagement with Faith Communities: Exploring the Tensions and Possibilities for Successful Collaboration

Community-engaged scholarship and building mutually-beneficial relationships between universities and their broader communities is a growing national priority in higher education. And while faith communities often provide the anchor for many community-based initiatives, there is an uneasy relationship between these communities and secular colleges and universities. This 60-minute webinar explores the challenges and opportunities for working across diverse faith communities in ways that align with institutional missions and promote the common good.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022; Zoom - 12:30 to 1:30 pm (CST)


Makeda Zulu, Executive Director, University of Minnesota Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center;

Charles Mathewes, Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia; and

Saif Ishoof, Founder/Partner, Lab 22c., Miami, Florida.

Thriving Together: Considering "Place" as a Transformative Opportunity for University Engagement

This one-hour webinar was held on January 25, 2022 and explored ways in which  community engagement can be a a strategy to promote the health and vitality of universities and the regions that they serve.

Drawing on both US and Canadian contexts, Engagement Academy faculty and leaders explored key framing questions that guide institutional planning and practice:

  • Who are we as an institution, and what kind of engagement identity should we nurture given our distinctive mission, history, culture, and place?
  • How does a consideration of "place" help us conceive of mutually beneficial relationships between our institution and the communities & publics that we serve?
  • In what ways might engagement be employed as a strategy to attract and sustain support for our institution?

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Can Engagement Boost State Appropriations for your Institution?

Several commissions, declarations, and association reports have called on colleges and universities to be more productively engaged with their communities. An underlying subtext of these reports is that the future of state support for higher education hinges on the ability of institutions to do so. But given the complexity of the higher education funding puzzle, is this really true? In this article published in Change Magazine, Engagement Academy director David Weerts shares the results of a twenty-year longitudinal study that sought to address this question.


Smart Change in Higher Education

In this article, Engagement Academy Executive-in-Residence, Judith Ramaley, and her colleagues advance the notion of "smart change" as a simple, yet powerful, means to help administrators, faculty, staff, and stakeholders better understand the issues surrounding change initiatives at their institutions. They elaborate on three approaches to change and how they relates to problem solving, planning, leadership, engagement, the learning environment, and accountability. Three institutional vignettes are provided.


Involving Trustees in Strategic Conversations about Engagement

As influential community leaders and philanthropists, trustees are ideally placed to support their campuses in becoming more productively engaged in addressing societal challenges in ways that promote student success and ensure the institution’s long-term financial health. In this article published in Trusteeship, Engagement Academy director, David Weerts provides some strategic questions for boards to consider as they think about engagement in the context of broader institutional goals. These inquires dig into core questions about institutional identity (who are we?) place, institutional performance, resource development, and image/value proposition.


Shared Leadership in Higher Education

Higher education leaders face increasingly complex challenges both internally and in their relationships with the broader communities that they serve. Economic and social stratification, political polarization, and the fallout from a global pandemic are among the ongoing challenges facing universities and the broader society. In this uncertain context, engagement leaders must expand their individual and institutional capacities to work more effectively across boundaries to serve the public good. In this co-edited book, Engagement Academy Executive-in-Residence, Judith Ramaley, and her colleagues explore the possibilities and challenges for employing shared leadership in higher education. Check out this primer for more details!


Identifying Alumni to Support Your Engagement Agenda: Do you know your Eagles, Hummingbirds, Cheetahs, and Koalas?

Have you ever wondered how to get your alumni to support your community engagement agenda? One place to start is to identify alumni who are most likely to support this work. In this article published by CASE Currents, Engagement Academy director David Weerts and his colleague, Alberto Cabrera (University of Maryland- College Park) share their decade-long research on pathways to alumni engagement. They illustrate how supportive alumni often have deep civic interests and make great prospects support community-engaged teaching, research, and scholarship.