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California State University, Sacramento

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Anchor University

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About the Initiative

In August 2018, President Robert Nelsen announced that Sacramento State would undertake an “anchor university” initiative in order to deepen and focus the campus’s community engagement efforts. As opposed to being an ivory tower, separate from the community, an anchor university deliberately and consciously applies its human and intellectual resources and its economic power to better the long-term welfare of the community.  In doing so, Sacramento State is able to transform the lives not only of our students but also the lives of those who live in the Sacramento region.

For more than 70 years, Sacramento State has been deeply rooted in the Sacramento community and region. Sacramento State is home to more than 31,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff. Our students have been at work in public schools, health care clinics and within local nonprofits. Our faculty have created lasting partnerships with neighborhood associations, the arts community, seniors’ centers, and the support growth of local businesses. Staff have volunteered countless hours with a wide variety of community organizations.  The anchor university effort will not replace these prior efforts, instead it intends to build off of them to ensure they are sustainable and are able to make a lasting change to the benefit of our community.

A guiding principle to Sacramento State’s anchor university effort is that actions taken by the university should benefit both faculty and student academic and intellectual pursuits, while also making our community better. By harnessing the collective focus of students, faculty, and staff, Sacramento State will fulfill its moral obligation to improving the lives and communities of those that make up our shared region.

After the August announcement, President Nelsen convened an Anchor University Task Force, with the charge to gather information to create a process for sustained community engagement and to identify community organizations who would like to work with the University through this process. The full taskforce includes over 40 students, faculty and staff from across the university and has held three community convenings to gain input and suggestions from community members.  In late August 2019, the taskforce will release a report to university’s leadership that will provide recommendations on how to support student-centered service learning, faculty-involved community partnerships, university purchasing decisions and much more.

The Task Force has paid special attention to supporting efforts that are reciprocal and mutually beneficial between the university and our community partners. Improving partnerships between faculty and students working on similar efforts and publically documenting existing community engagement activities has also been explored.  A review of successful community engagement structures and process at other universities was also conducted.