By Carrie Henderson
Need help in your community from a top regional university? Has App State got a URL for you.
Appalachian State University is taking a virtual approach to sharing its very real community outreach efforts – with a new, comprehensive, easy-to-navigate website showing exactly where and how the university is engaging in the region.
“This website, designed specifically with the regional community in mind, is an invaluable resource for those seeking information about university services and programs that support economic development and outreach related to education, cultural activities and health services,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock.
Todd Mortensen, Associate Director of Community Partnerships for Appalachian and the Community Together, first developed the idea in 2007 after learning how other universities communicate their resources with community members. Over the next year, Appalachian prepared for, applied for, and ultimately received the “community engagement” classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The application process, along with the UNC Tomorrow initiative, led the university to the idea for a website that makes campus resources, expertise and outreach programs more accessible to the community.
While developing the website, Appalachian gathered feedback from two stakeholder groups, one comprised of representatives from nonprofits, businesses, churches, schools & local media, and the other of Appalachian faculty, staff & students.
The website – located at www.community.appstate.edu – went live on July 7, 2009. Key features include a search engine for over 80 programs and services, an events calendar, a link to the community Twitter page, information on workshops, classes and camps and “Ask Appalachian,” which is an email service to answer any questions for the community.
Linda Slade, Executive Director of the High Country United Way, participated in the stakeholder group and was impressed with the outcome: “The website is a great way to learn how the university connects to the community and beyond. It is an excellent resource to the United Way as a place to learn about Appalachian’s research and workshops, as well as a place to recruit interns and volunteers.”
The website is intended to serve a wide audience, including local farmers and families, nonprofits, local business, visitors, newcomers, local government members and Appalachian faculty, staff and students.
From the stakeholder groups emerged an Engagement Council, comprised of representatives from different outreach efforts across campus, designed to provide continual feedback on the website.
Mortensen believes it has been a collaborative process, which will continue to grow in the future: “The community engagement website offers both a window into learning more about university resources and a door by which to access them… We encourage everyone to visit the site, see what we have to offer, utilize the resources available and let us know how we can serve and partner with you better.”
For further information, please contact:
Associate Director of Community Partnerships
Appalachian & the Community Together (ACT)
(828) 262-3032 / email@example.com