Engagement Symposium to ‘inspire a heightened commitment’

Serena Bettis

Colorado State University faculty and staff gathered March 9 at the inaugural Engagement Symposium to explore the ins and outs of campus engagement. 

With keynote speaker Chad Wootton grounded at his home school, Texas A&M University, members from the Provost’s Council for Engagement stepped in to facilitate conversations and share ideas. 

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“The Carnegie Foundation defines engagement as the collaborations between institutions of higher education and their larger communities — local, regional, state, national and global — for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity,” said Christine Fruhauf, a professor and member of the Provost’s Council for Engagement. 

Founded just over three years ago, the Provost’s Council for Engagement aims to “advance the practice and recognition of engaged scholarship as embedded within University missions of teaching, research and service.” 

“We’ve gathered today to showcase and celebrate the diverse forms of community-engaged teaching, research and service by CSU faculty and staff and inspire a heightened commitment to engagement for the next 150 years,” Fruhauf said. 

Vice President for Engagement and Extension Blake Naughton said the Council for Engagement was created to figure out if CSU is a leading land-grant institution, and if so, what that looks like across the University. 

“An anniversary like this isn’t just reflecting on the past, but where we’re going next,” Naughton said. 

The reworked symposium schedule allowed attendees to share more with one another rather than listen to speeches all day. They then engaged with a text-in polling software to display their ideas to all in the room. 

We know that we bring people together and that voices together lift up to better solutions, and that’s the way we’re going to go about invigorating this mission.” -Blake Naughton, Vice President for Engagement and Extension

Words associated with CSU’s land-grant mission included “community,” “extension,” “access” and “service.” 

This connected with themes discussed in a panel later on in the event that featured campus faculty and community members who have partnered with CSU Extension.

“When we think about community partnerships, we’re really wondering, as adults in the room, ‘Are we truly holding ourselves accountable for doing our work for the best possible social good in this community?’” said Sara Maranowicz, the community programs director for the Bohemian Foundation. 

Maranowicz said that engagement and community building require those involved to consistently ask themselves if they are properly using all available resources to make change and better the community. 

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Naughton said that the Provost’s Council for Engagement is meeting with stakeholders on- and off-campus in the next few months to discuss what areas of community engagement the University excels at and what needs adjusting.

The council brought together CSU faculty and staff at the Engagement Symposium as a chance to connect with each other’s ideas, learn from their experiences and build momentum for future projects.  

“We know that we bring people together and that voices together lift up to better solutions, and that’s the way we’re going to go about invigorating this mission,” Naughton said.

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.