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UCO Earns National Recognition from Carnegie Foundation for Community Engagement

Jan. 7, 2015

Media Contact: Lindsay Thomas, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Relation, 405-974-2121,


The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has recognized the University of Central Oklahoma’s community impact with the foundation’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification — a classification received this year by only 82 other colleges and universities nationwide.

The Community Engagement Classification, first offered in 2006, describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the exchange of knowledge and resources.

UCO President Don Betz said the recognition reflects the university’s deep commitment to its students and the Edmond and metropolitan Oklahoma City communities.  

“As a metropolitan university, we have opportunities to develop unique partnerships that allow both our students and the surrounding community to thrive. This recognition from the Carnegie Foundation further validates the importance of cultivating relationships with our community,” said Betz.

Central’s community partners and programs span industries and disciplines, leaving an impact far beyond the borders of the metropolitan area.

In its application to the Carnegie Foundation, the university highlighted 14 community engagement programs with partners including the Forensic Science Consortium, the Mercy Health Network, Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Department Wildlife Conservation and the Council of Environmental Education, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City Public Schools, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Tinker Air Force Base, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Sharra Hynes, Ph.D., executive director of Experiential Learning at Central, said these partners help the university impact the community with programs like the UCO Endeavor Games, which welcomed more than 300 disabled athletes from nearly 40 states to Edmond in 2014; arts initiatives like the Broadway Tonight performing arts series, the Drama Camp Series for the state’s primary and secondary school students, and the Oklahoma High School Dance Festival; and the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy, which, aside from training and preparing UCO teacher candidates to teach in urban districts, identifies and recruits high school students in local urban school districts who have a desire to become teachers to attend UCO’s Prospective Teachers Academy.

“Our community engagement programs are just as important to our students as the education they receive in the classroom. Our students are transformed by the opportunity to make a lasting impact in the community through these programs. That sticks with them, and can lead to a lifetime of civic engagement for the student no matter where they live and work,” Hynes added. 

A task force of 13 members of university faculty and staff, chaired by Hynes and Janelle Grellner, Ph.D, professor of psychology, completed the foundation’s rigorous two-year application process. The classification will be retained for 10 years, after which Central must apply for re-classification.

For more information about the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification or to see a complete list of recipients, visit

For more information about UCO, visit