UCF students, faculty and staff care about their community and it shows through everything they do from offering free mental health counseling at a campus clinic, to erecting 40-foot-tall wind turbines in a South African village to help locals with energy needs, to collecting holiday gifts for families in nearby Bithlo.

UCF is engaged with its community. So it’s no surprise that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has again awarded UCF its “Community Engagement” classification.

This recognition places UCF in elite company. UCF is one of only 25 public universities with the Carnegie Foundation’s highest designation in the categories of “community engagement” and “very high” research activity.

“This tremendous accomplishment is a testament to the dedication and spirit of collaboration that lives among our outstanding staff and faculty members and students,” said President John C. Hitt. “This prestigious designation is a reflection of our commitment to improving our community, not just through innovative academics, but also through programs that substantively affect the ways our students learn and how they relate to the world around them.”

Among the university’s goals is to be the nation’s partnership university and that means finding ways to work together with our local, regional and national community to enhance the lives of students and residents for a better tomorrow.

These partnerships and community service successes are happening every day. More than 20,000 students participate annually in experiential learning through co-op, internships, and service-learning courses. And the university has teamed up with community partners for some of its biggest successes including the creation of UCF’s College of Medicine, DirectConnect to UCF, which offers students from four nearby state colleges an opportunity to gain direct access to UCF after earning their associate’s degree, and more recently to develop a plan to open a campus in downtown Orlando.

Those partnerships are also part of every college’s DNA at the university.

For example the College of Health and Public Affairs has been partnering with the Children’s Home Society of Florida, Orange County Public Schools and Central Florida Family Health Center to run Evans Community School at Evans High School.  This community school integrates academics, family support, parent involvement, community development, health care and enrichment opportunities to give children additional resources to make a difference in a child’s educational success. These resources include: after-school tutoring, mentoring programs, food pantries, adult education for their parents, child care, healthier lifestyle alternatives, recreational activities, and a new clinic offering medical, dental, behavioral health and social services to students, staff and community members.

“The Carnegie Foundation’s recognition of our great work is just one example of how quickly UCF has risen in the past 50 years,” Hitt said. “I look forward to what UCF will accomplish in the next 50.”