The University of Miami Earns the State Title for Service to Local Communities
By UM News

The University of Miami Earns the State Title for Service to Local Communities
By UM News
The University of Miami was honored with Florida Compact's Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Engaged Campus Special Award.

The University of Miami has many words that have become synonymous with it over the years. Academics, research, and athletics are a few that come to mind. Now another word—engagement—which is embedded in every school, college, and department across the University—is receiving further validation. ln honor of its 25th anniversary, Florida Campus Compact has declared UM “the most engaged institution of higher education in the state of Florida.”

Adding to a host of other awards for engagement the U has received over the last few years, UM just received Florida Campus Compact’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Engaged Campus Special Award for advancing the “public purposes of higher education, improving community life and educating students for civic and social responsibility.” Comprised of over 50 college and university presidents, Florida Campus Compact has been helping students develop the values and skills of active citizenship for 25 years.

“We are so honored to receive this award in recognition of the tremendous work being done by our faculty and students to promote community-based learning and research on all of our campuses,” said Robin Bachin, assistant provost for Civic and Community Engagement. “We offer over 450 courses with a service-learning component, giving students the opportunity to translate classroom knowledge into real-world problem-solving skills that address our most pressing community needs.”

Bachin and her team at Civic and Community Engagement (CCE) don’t just preach civic engagement, they work hands-on with the community to help resolve some of the city’s most pressing issues. One of these issues is affordable housing.

Recently, CCE helped develop a first-of-its-kind free and publicly accessible tool for affordable housing called the “Miami Affordability Project” (MAP.) Developed in partnership with the Center for Computational Science, MAP is a tool that provides over 100 data filters on housing, demographics, and property data which will help develop data-driven strategies for affordable housing development and historic preservation.

The Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, which has been at UM for over 25 years, also brings students into the local community. Director Andrew Wiemer and his team serve as catalysts in developing students who cultivate positive social change within their communities as engaged citizens.

The team works directly with over 40 student organizations that have a service-based focus and organizes campus-wide service days for students where they have the opportunity to engage with the local community and become educated on pressing local needs and issues. This past year alone, UM students have documented over 157,489 service hours within their curricular and co-curricular experiences.

“This award is a wonderful testament to our students and their continued dedication to the community,” Wiemer said. “The University of Miami has some of the most civically minded and actively engaged students from across the world and it is a joy to work with them each day as we continue to educate others about the importance of this work and improve our greater Miami community.”

As part of their mission to help students be more engaged, the Butler Center also offers an online platform where students can connect with community agencies. This provides students with ways to help in the local communities even if it’s not directly affiliated with UM.

As current University of Miami Newman Civic Fellow Alexis Musick puts it, "Involving myself in the community has done wonders to contextualize what I learn in class. It's one thing to have a unit on public health or Spanish grammar, but another thing entirely to speak with someone in their most comfortable language and see an issue on the ground, from their perspective."

Numerous other areas at the University are also involved with helping our local communities. The Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program at the Frost School of Music, for example, offers musical instruments and instruction to individuals in local Miami communities and aims to build healthier and happier communities with positive development of individuals through music.

Partners in Action, or “Patne an Aksyon,” a partnership between the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Miller School of Medicine and key Haitian-American community-based organizations in Miami, aims to reduce breast cancer mortality among Haitian-American women in Miami by catching the cancer in early stages, ultimately providing a better chance of survival for the patient.

As Campus Compact’s award reflects, UM has a long-standing relationship with the diverse area that surrounds it and is doing its best—the best in the state—to advance not only students at the University but also the inhabitants of Greater Miami.