University Partnership Directory: a campus audit

February 24, 2015

The campus audit of service activities, a method which will be discussed here, assesses community impact at the same time as it provides a valuable tool for those interested in community service on campus. Brown University recently engaged in such an effort, tying together various other methods of measuring impact in order to derive a picture of the breadth and scope of campus-community relationships in Providence, Rhode Island. The campus audit provided background on over 240 community initiatives coming from faculty, staff, and students at the university. Putting together such a comprehensive audit posed a number of challenges: from committing the resources needed to perform the audit; to identifying efforts around campus; to collecting the information.

First, in order to conduct such a broad assessment, the university needed to commit broad resources. The effort at Brown was supported by the university s community service center, its office of community and government relations, and the office of the president. Resources, however, weren t enough. The university needed someone who had the knowledge and skill to put together such breadth of information. To do this, the university hired Kath Connolly, a consultant who was also an alumna and former employee of the university. Personal knowledge of the university gave Kath several strong entry points to the institution and made it easier to gather information.

A second challenge was that of finding out about the many disparate community activities going on. It was easy to get preliminary information on programs sponsored by the university service center. Still, there were dozens of other activities that were going on through other groups not associated with the service center. In order to find out about these, requests for submission were placed in campus publications, and faculty and staff who had a history of involvement in service-learning were asked for their input. In many cases, word of mouth brought programs to Kath s attention. Projects undertaken by individuals without institutional sponsorship were the most difficult to identify. The third challenge was to collect data on these initiatives. Hundreds of faculty and staff on campus and the people they work with in the community were interviewed. These interviews produced background on various organizations and revealed the effects that campus-community collaborations were having on Brown s many community partners. After six months of collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information, the campus audit was complete. The information was published in a University Partnership Directory and made available over the internet. The university plans to revisit and update the publication every two years.

 

From Service Matters 1998: Engaging Higher Education In the Renewal of America s Communities and American Democracy

online: http://brown.edu/academics/college/special-programs/public-service/

Brown University - RI, Rhode Island
President: Ruth J Simmons
  • update-img-new

    Get updates on what's new in the Campus Compact Network