COC earns national recognition for community engagement

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News release 

College of the Canyons is the only California community college to receive the 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement awarded by the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

Granted to 40 U.S. colleges and universities as part of the 2024 cycle, the classification signifies alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, and resources that support dynamic and noteworthy practices of community engagement, according to a news release from COC. 

“We recognize these institutions for their exceptional commitment to community engagement, and their work to transform knowledge into meaningful action,” Timothy Knowles, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, said in the release. “They exemplify the true spirit of the Carnegie endorsement and the power of serving the public good.” 

The Carnegie Classifications are the nation’s leading framework for categorizing and describing colleges and universities in the United States, the release said. Utilized frequently by policymakers, funders and researchers, the classifications are a critical benchmarking tool for postsecondary institutions.  

“We are extremely honored to have been selected for the 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification,” COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook said in the release. “Community engagement is vital to building long-lasting relationships, fostering a spirit of civic duty, and the overall enrichment of the communities we serve. We are committed to continue doing this very important work.”  

COC’s commitment to community engagement can be seen during election seasons, when the college’s civic engagement program hosts numerous discussion panels and distributes nonpartisan materials that provide additional information on propositions and candidates, the release said. The school also participates in Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, which provides colleges and universities with data on student registration and voting rates. These numbers provide benchmarks to measure the success of future voting engagement efforts. 

In addition, COC also participates in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a national, nonpartisan awards program recognizing colleges and universities for improving civic learning, political engagement and student voting rates. As a part of this initiative, students, faculty and staff have worked together to develop and implement an action plan to increase voting and civic engagement.  

Patty Robinson, COC faculty director of civic and community engagement initiatives, says creating a civic and community engagement program worthy of recognition of receiving the prestigious Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement has been a longtime goal. 

“I am humbled to say that my goal has come true; but, most importantly, I am elated that the outstanding work of my colleagues has been honored,” Robinson said in the release. “Because of the exceptional examples of civic and community engagement displayed by students, faculty, staff, and administrators, COC now joins the ranks of a select group of the nation’s colleges and universities dedicated to making a difference for the public good.” 

The college’s community engagement efforts also include providing high-quality instruction to marginalized groups. 

The Rising Scholars program offers face-to-face courses to current and former incarcerated students. Credit courses are offered as a pathway to completing students’ general education requirements toward an associate degree using IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum), which is required for transfer to California State University and University of California. While COC does some online work, most courses are primarily offered inside Los Angeles County jail sites. These students receive many services, including counseling and tutoring. 

The Uniquely Abled Academy at COC provides skills training for people with high-functioning autism that enables them to excel at computer numerical control machining. This 12-week program includes 420 hours of in-class instruction led by an experienced CNC operator and instructor, plus 60 hours of focus on job readiness, soft skills and laboratory. The program provides an intensive career preparation program for job seekers with high-functioning autism looking for an opportunity to start new careers as CNC machinists.  

The 40 institutions classified in the 2024 cycle join the 350 currently classified institutions that earned classification in either 2015 or 2020, for a total of 368 campuses nationwide that are active holders of this designation. Among the 2024 recipients of the classification, only three are community colleges. 

Classification is awarded following an arduous self-study process by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee.  

“A huge thank you goes to Dr. Ryan Theule for taking the administrative lead on this project, and to the unwavering support of Linda Beauregard-Vasquez, who served as co-author of this extensive civic and community engagement self-study,” Robinson said in the release. “I would also like to thank Chancellor Dianne Van Hook for believing that each and every one of us has the ability to be a civic and community leader.” 

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