Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer
to experience this site as intended.
Skip to content

President’s Page

In, of, and for the CommunityA national recognition celebrates the University’s long-standing commitments to the communities it calls home.By Sarah C. Mangelsdorf

At my inauguration last fall, I stressed my commitment to continuing the University of Rochester’s enduring engagement with our home city and region. As recognition of that commitment, I am delighted to announce that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has for the first time selected the University of Rochester to receive its prestigious Community Engagement Classification.

The classification recognizes “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.” Earning this designation is a significant achievement and a fitting recognition of a value that has been central to the University’s ethos since the institution’s founding.

As a research institution, we are uniquely situated to help lead community partnerships and publish evidence-based results that will in turn transform the world around us. Sharing the fruits of our mutual engagement with community organizations to address problems of access to education, health care, poverty, job creation, and more can result in modeling best practices nationwide.

I am indebted to Rich Feldman, who championed our efforts to apply for this designation during his presidency. I am also grateful to a University-wide working group that developed our application. Under the leadership of Glenn Cerosaletti, assistant dean of students and director of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, and Theresa Green, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Center for Community Health and Prevention, this group spent many months researching and coordinating with individuals and groups across campus and throughout our community. They created a first-ever inventory of our extensive investment in and engagement with the local community—through educational partnerships, economic revitalization, and support of cultural programs. The working group identified more than 300 University-community collaborations with more than 200 partner agencies that reflected the University’s commitment to community-based research, education, and service.

Our continuing work with East High School is but one example. Since 2014, when the University embarked on an educational partnership with East, many University units have contributed to the school’s revival, including the provision of needed mental, social-emotional, and physical health services to scholars, partners, and families. Through the Center for Urban Education Success, Warner School faculty members are conducting evaluation work on culture and climate that we expect can become a national model for improving urban schools. When we began our work with East five years ago, the graduation rate was about 33 percent. The cohort that graduated in 2019 achieved a graduation rate of 70 percent.

Another key partnership is with the Mt. Hope Family Center, which recently received a multimillion grant over five years to establish a national center for child maltreatment studies. The center’s psychologists, researchers, and clinicians are part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and have provided evidence-based intervention and prevention services to more than 900 at-risk children and families annually in the Rochester area, while also training the next generation of clinicians and researchers. This work has become a model both nationally and internationally in providing intervention, prevention, and support to the youngest and most vulnerable in our society.

The University has also helped the work of revitalizing Rochester’s downtown, creating the downtown Innovation Zone, anchored by NextCorps, the University’s 40,000-square-foot business incubator, which opened in 2018. Located in the renovated Sibley Building, NextCorps is the Finger Lakes region’s only federally and state designated business incubator, and over the last five years has helped around 100 start-up companies here and statewide. It is also home to the world’s largest business accelerator for the optics, photonics, and imaging industries, attracting companies from around the world.

These are just a few examples of how Rochester can be a leader nationally in community-engaged research. As the state’s largest private employer outside New York City, the University of Rochester provides significant economic, educational, medical, cultural, and social benefit. We have an opportunity—and perhaps even an obligation—to live our Meliora Values when we seek to expand and advance our understanding of the world through community-engaged research. Together we will address the most pressing issues facing society.

As I mentioned in my inaugural remarks, as much as the University of Rochester is in the community and of the community, we must also be a University for our community, always cognizant of our role in the City of Rochester, the region, and indeed the world. I am grateful to the members of the Carnegie working group who dedicated their time and talents in assembling a successful application for the Carnegie Community Engagement designation. This is a recognition to celebrate—and one of which we can all rightly be proud.

Contact President Mangelsdorf at Follow her on Instagram: @urochestermangelsdorf.