The University of Minnesota Crookston has a history of community engagement that began long before the office by that name was established. Faculty realized early on that many of the courses taught at UMC were best taught beyond the doors of the classrooms. In 1996, the Office of Service-Learning was established and housed under Student Activities. In addition to coordinating the service-learning program, this office also coordinated community service projects and America Reads. In 2011 we changed our name to the Office of Community Engagement to better describe our goals and more accurately define our activities. We work directly with local agencies, organizations, and individuals to address community needs. We also work across departments to access the classes, clubs, and individuals to help get the projects completed. Our goal is to support faculty, students, and the community in mutually beneficial partnerships that provide meaningful service. Through these experiences, we hope students become more self-aware, discover what they are truly passionate about, and feel a sense of civic responsibility. In the process, we hope that coursework makes a little more sense and their service allows them to pose a few more questions. Currently, students complete approximately 20,000 hours of service annually through service-learning and community service projects related primarily to educating youth, and addressing the needs of the elderly, the environment, and those facing poverty.
The mission of the Office of Community Engagement is to serve as a resource for faculty for the integration of service-learning, support students in their development as engaged citizens and scholars, and foster mutually beneficial campus-community partnerships to address community needs.