5 Ways to Get Involved in Community Engagement

On Jan. 31, Pitt was honored with the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a prestigious honor the University sought after for many years. 

Pitt is one of just 359 U.S. colleges and universities to hold this designation, which recognizes the University’s diverse, wide-ranging community partnerships. 

This achievement was made possible because of the dedication of many faculty and staff at the University, according to Senior Vice Chancellor of Engagement and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Kathy Humphrey

“We’ve earned this distinction, collectively, as a University,” said Humphrey. “Faculty, staff and students in each of our academic units invest their teaching, research and service in the community. It’s their hard work that was crucial to Pitt receiving this prestigious classification.”  

Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations (CGR), reported that the rigorous application process involved a team of faculty and staff charged with aggregating a significant amount of information—and served as a time of self-reflection. 

“The recognition from this classification gives us a framework that we’ll use to continue to grow our efforts to form meaningful partnerships in the community to address shared challenges,” said Dostilio. “The work is far from over.” 

Melissa McGivney, associate dean for community partnerships in the School of Pharmacy, leads the health and wellness subgroup of CGR’s internal advisory council. 

“Listening and partnering with people in communities enriches our teaching and discovery, and affords an opportunity for our students and faculty to authentically give back to communities,” she said. “The community engagement effort on our campus has created a unique opportunity to bring together faculty and staff throughout our campus community who do community-engaged work. We are building a cross-disciplined community within the University, allowing us to understand how we, together with the community, we can advance needs of communities— and teach a new generation of community-engaged citizens.”

Holly Hickling (GSPIA ’17), academic community engagement advisor with the Honors College, said community engagement is baked into everything she does. 

“As the community engagement advisor in the Honors College, I see myself as a connector, a coach and a cheerleader, not just for honors students, but for any student who wants to take their community engagement to the next level, whether it be through long-term projects, engaged research, fellowships and more,” Hickling said.

Five ways to engage

It’s up to faculty and staff to keep the momentum going. Here are five ways you can get involved in community engagement at Pitt:

  1. Register for and attend the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum on March 3 
    The annual event celebrates of the diversity of the community-engaged work being done by faculty, staff and students at Pitt. The event also gives attendees the opportunity to explore a variety of partnerships and network with others who do similar work. The event will feature the announcement the Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s Partnerships of Distinction Awards recipients and a keynote presentation by Diana Bucco, president of the Buhl Foundation. Read more about the 2020 Community Engaged Scholarship Forum and register to attend.
  2. There are no borders or boundaries when it comes to learning from each other and using that knowledge to address community challenges. 

    Submit your partnership or community engagement activity to the Engagement and Outreach Map, explore who else is active in this work on campus and learn about the breadth of engagement happening through Pitt.

    Participate in the Engagement Community of Practice
    Do you support your office’s implementation of community engagement? Network with employees who do similar work by participating in the Community of Practice, a network that provides an environment for community engagement practitioners to support and mentor one another. Fill out this survey to indicate your interest in participating and strengthening your practice of community engagement.
  3. Meet with your elected officials on Pitt Day in Harrisburg on March 17
    Mark your calendar and join faculty, staff, students and alumni at the annual Pitt Day in Harrisburg. It’s a full day dedicated to telling state legislators about the University’s impact and urging their continued support of Pitt. Read more about this year’s Pitt Day in Harrisburg.
  4. Attend a CEC info session for faculty and staff
    Learn more about the University’s Neighborhood Commitments at an information session at the Community Engagement Center (CEC) in Homewood. All faculty and staff are invited to hear how teaching and research can come together with community partners to provide mutually beneficial and sustained collaborations. Participants will also tour the CEC, meet its staff and hear from Dostilio. Info sessions occur monthly; the next session is scheduled for Feb. 20. Learn more and chose a session to attend.
  5. Sign up for CGR newsletters
    CGR offers a variety of newsletters that help you stay in-the-know about volunteer opportunities and about what’s going on in local and state government. View the list of newsletters and subscribe to one—or all.