University Leaders Call on Higher Education to Do More, Better Public Service

PULLMAN, Wash. — In the face of a perception by some that higher education provides public service “out of touch and out of date,” 27 current and former public and land-grant university presidents have laid out a framework for change.
The 27, including Washington State University President Samuel Smith, serve on the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities. It was created by a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
In a report, “Returning to our Roots: The Engaged Institution,” sent to the chief executives of the nation’s state and land-grant colleges and universities, the commission calls on public institutions to become “engaged institutions” by:
— Responding to the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s, not yesterday’s.
— Enriching students’ experiences by bringing research and engagement into the curriculum and offering practical opportunities for students to prepare for the world they will enter.
— Putting critical resources, including knowledge and expertise, to work on the problems facing the communities they serve.
“The Engaged Institution” is the third of a series of commission reports to public university officials. The reports frame a vision for reforming public higher education and outline actions for change.
Smith says WSU is a good “engaged institution” model due to its continuing commitment to public service, as part of its land-grant mandate.
“For example, our university’s Cooperative Extension Service offers a variety of statewide programs, from 4-H and youth development for youth to nutrition and family relationship programs. The Drug Information Center of WSU’s College of Pharmacy answers thousands of inquiries a year from health care professionals concerning medications,” Smith said.
He cited other examples including:
— The Small Business Development Center that provides business management and technical assistance, training and research to small business owners and managers to improve profitability and stimulate economic growth.
— The Center for Educational Partnerships in the College of Education that is the hub of statewide collaborative activity that revitalizes both WSU’s professional preparation programs and the state’s schools and communities.
— The Pet Support Hotline, a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine that supports people dealing with the inevitable processes of loss and grief that accompany the human-animal bond.
— The Community Service Learning Center that provides opportunities for students to learn through thoughtful engagement in community service, applying knowledge gained in the classroom and contributing to the well-being of people and their communities.
The entire text of “The Engaged Institution” is available online at NASULGC’s web site: .