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Texas Border Business

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV is one of just 119 colleges and universities in the United States to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for 2020.

The Carnegie Foundation today announced the classification, which honors an institution’s commitment to community engagement and its collaborations with local, regional, state, national and global partners.

This is the first time UTRGV has earned the elective, evidence-based designation, which recognizes the university’s efforts to engage with community partners, build on community assets and address a wide array of community challenges. 

A special team of faculty, staff and community partners convened over the course of a year to document UTRGV’s community engagement efforts for the reporting year 2017-2018.

UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said the UTRGV designation should come as no surprise.

“When it comes to improving the social and economic mobility of students, there are few institutions in the nation that make more of an impact than UT Rio Grande Valley,” he said. 

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“Because UTRGV is invested and engaged in communities throughout the Valley, it has a deep understanding of the support and resources students need to be successful during and after college. 

“UTRGV is not just an institution of higher education; it is a community pillar, and the Carnegie designation is a reflection of that,” Milliken said. “Congratulations to President Bailey and all UTRGV administrators, faculty and staff who remain focused every day on the grand purpose of public higher education.”

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said recognition by the Carnegie Foundation is an important acknowledgment of the work and dedication of the university to the community it serves.

“Community Engagement is one of UTRGV’s core priorities and this tremendous honor validates all the extraordinary things we’re doing for the entire Rio Grande Valley,” Bailey said. “This is truly a team effort that recognizes the community engagement efforts of many of our students, faculty, and staff. We should all be extremely proud of this designation.”


The Carnegie Foundation commended UTRGV’s application for documenting the nature and extent of engagement activities, including alignment of campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.

Leading the effort were more than 50 certified faculty experts, who offered nearly 150 Designated Service-Learning course sections to more than 4,000 students who participated in Designated Service Learning and Community Engaged Scholarship and Learning courses.

Institutions participate voluntarily by submitting required materials, as part of an extensive application process that requires data collection and documentation to prove the nature and extent of engagement with the community. 

The approach enables the foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities. 

Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV’s vice president for Governmental and Community Relations, said the designation is important for the university because it embodies the Carnegie Foundation’s goal of rewarding the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources.

“Engaging with our community is key to UTRGV’s mission to transform the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “This prestigious Carnegie Classification is especially meaningful because it recognizes the ongoing collective efforts made by our students, faculty, staff and leadership to connect with and positively impact our region. I am especially thrilled for our community engagement team, who led the effort to make this classification possible and who worked tirelessly to submit an excellent application.”

What others are saying about UTRGV’s Carnegie designation…

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to UTRGV for attaining the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. As a fellow Carnegie classified institution in the University of Texas System, we know firsthand the deep commitment to community engagement this honor symbolizes. Attaining this prestigious milestone says volumes about UTRGV’s drive to enrich lives and enhance excellence within their campus and local communities.”

– Taylor Eighmy, President,

The University of Texas at San Antonio

“Following its establishment, UTRGV made a significant commitment to engaging with the communities of the Valley, especially colonias, in new, more robust and effective ways. We are very happy to have played a role in supporting these efforts and congratulate the university on being honored with the Carnegie classification.”

– Dr. Charles Rutheiser, Senior Associate in the Center for Community and Economic Opportunity at the Annie E. Casey Foundation

“The process for building intentional community engagement between UTRGV and low-income communities has opened a pathway of new opportunities. This has increased the leadership capacity of our community leaders, students, faculty, and staff through the authentic exchange of knowledge and resources. We now see faculty excited about applying for grants to address community needs, and a community committed to planning and executing projects together with students, their peers and faculty. We see mothers proud of their contributions in strengthening the relationship between faculty and community which has contributed to a learning environment that is more inclusive to both students and parents.”

– Juanita Valdez-Cox, LUPE Executive Director / Unidos por RGV

“We were invited as experts, both at the university level and at the community level… we felt that we had much to offer and that our voice mattered. Congratulations UTRGV for this great achievement.”

– Lourdes M. Flores, ARISE President / UNIDOS por RGV“Recognition as a Carnegie engaged university exemplifies our commitment to our mission and vision, and our belief that collectively we have the power to make a profound impact on our region and beyond.” 

– Patricia McHatton, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Success, and P-16 Integration

“This Carnegie Classification recognizes the unique participatory approach to community engagement that we are taking here at the Valley’s university. Our focus on Community-Engaged Scholarship and Learning emphasizes that faculty, students and community partners co-envision, co-develop and co-implement solutions to local and global challenges, leading to success for faculty, students and the community.”

– Dr. Parwinder Grewal, UTRGV Executive Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies, and New Program Development

“It is a tremendous compliment for UTRGV to have earned the Carnegie Designation. A university will not thrive without the community’s support. This designation indicates UTRGV has made the investments necessary to be perceived as true community partner. The credit for this accomplishment goes to all the faculty, staff and students who have given their time and effort to earn this important award.”

– John Ronnau, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Partnerships; Program Director, Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), UTRGV School Medicine

“This community-engaged designation will help UTRGV to be even more engaged with our communities because the designation is akin to taking on a new identity. It will also help us as we apply for other designations, accreditations, and grants and it may attract civically-engaged faculty, staff, and students to join our UTRGV family. I was happy to help as a committee person in this 2019 application. I also had experience and insights as the former director of the Center for Civic Engagement, as our legacy campus received this Carnegie designation in January 2011. Together, and in community, we are stronger.”

– Kathy Bussert-Webb, Professor of Bilingual and Literacy Studies at UTRGV and Carnegie 2020 Committee Member

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