Collaborative partnerships between higher education institutions and businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies are more vital than ever in addressing the needs of the region they all serve. Successful partnerships help address issues that one organization cannot tackle alone, such as poverty reduction, access to educational opportunities, or environmental issues. These campus-community partnerships fall under the umbrella of community engagement. Towson University has adopted the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching definition for community engagement:
Community Engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
As a community engaged institution, Towson University values collaborative partnerships and recognizes the vital role they plan in our teaching, research, and service. Towson University’s close proximity to downtown Baltimore creates unique opportunities for campus-community partnerships. Once the issue has been identified, bringing organizational partners in government, the private sector, and the non profit community together that all have something at stake is often the first step in creating a sustainable partnership. There are, certain characteristics that the University looks for when partnering in order to ensure a successful and sustainable collaboration. These include:
- The partnership is in line with the mission of, and is beneficial to, both Towson University and the partnering organization(s).
- There is clear communication from all participants regarding the partnership. Each organization in the partnership should understand its roles and expectations and partners should make decisions jointly.
- The partnership should include clear plans for evaluation. All partners should have clear goals for the partnership, as well as plans to measure the achievement of those goals.
Towson, like any large institution has to evaluate each partnership opportunity carefully to determine which partnerships will yield the biggest return for our students as well as our community. These criteria are critical in that decision-making process.
To learn how you can partner with Towson University, contact me at 410-704-2678 or firstname.lastname@example.org. As the University’s Outreach & Partnerships Coordinator, I can help get the conversation started by identifying the right academic department, faculty, outreach center, or administrative unit. Our team also provides ongoing follow-up and helps set key assessment metrics that make sure that the partners have all of the information and resources that they need and that the partnership is meeting its identified objectives.