CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University's efforts to offer free legal services, train coal miners, prevent heart disease and provide basic care to the homeless are some reasons why the school earned a coveted community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
WVU is among 6 percent of U.S. higher education institutions that Carnegie recognized for community engagement for 2010.
To apply for the distinction, various WVU employees got together in 2010 and examined the programs the university provides for the community, and how it measures success.
Elizabeth Dooley, associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs, led the committee in its search across colleges, the WVU Extension Service, the Health Sciences Center and more.
"What it really demonstrated for us was a lot of 'wow' moments," Dooley told the Gazette.
Members of the committee were surprised to learn about the outreach that was happening in colleges outside their own, she said.
"As a land-grant institution, many of the things are inherent in the work," Dooley said. "It's the culture."
Dooley and others saw a breadth of diversity in the university's community outreach. For instance, journalism students captured the stories of aging state veterans through the West Virginia Veterans History Project.
People received legal help through the law school's clinical law programs, while the extension service's "Dining with Diabetes" program offers free healthy cooking advice to residents with diabetes and their family members.
One of the Health Sciences Center's efforts is the West Virginia Rural Health education Partnership, which places young professionals in community health centers across the state.