On April 22, 2014, UNC General Administration convened the first gathering of the UNC Engagement Council at their headquarters in Chapel, Hill, NC. Convened by Leslie Boney, Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement, and chaired by Jenni Harris, Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Partnerships at UNC Wilmington, this group is composed of civic engagement administrators from each of the 17-campuses comprising the UNC system. The Council will seek to be campus-driven and focus on sharing ideas, best practices and strategies related to connecting their institutions more effectively with communities. NC Campus Compact’s Lisa Keyne, Executive Director, and Leslie Garvin, Associate Director, were pleased to be in attendance for this seminal event.
The UNC system hired Boney in 2006 to bring together campus engagement coordinators to increase responsiveness to community needs, to increase UNC’s connectedness to the world, and boost international student recruitment and travel abroad, and to increase system-wide and regional economic development partnerships. Since 2011 he has organized a yearly UNC System Engagement Summit to discuss the importance of engagement to achieving institutional strategic goals as well as share tools for effectively measuring impact across the UNC system. Following the May 2012 Summit, UNC President Tom Ross commissioned two multi-campus taskforces to develop concise sets of indicators, or metrics, that all UNC campuses could use to assess “progress in community engagement and economic development.” The Community Engagement Metrics taskforce is chaired by Dr. Emily Janke, Special Assistant for Community Engagement, Institute for Community and Economic Engagement (ICEE) at UNC Greensboro.
During this inaugural meeting, the group discussed the questions each of their campuses have about community engagement, they reviewed the 2013-14 Community and Economic Engagement Metrics, discussed collaboration opportunities with NC Campus Compact, and began to develop a workplan for the group which plans to meet quarterly. Tom Ross, President of the UNC System, shared why community engagement matters to UNC with special emphasis that the Council not “forget the stories… as, coupled with the numbers and data, they are multipliers” to help the UNC System remain “a university of the people.”