Katie O'Connor, left, and Amy Farrington oversee USFSM's new Office of Community Engagement.

USF Sarasota-Manatee establishes Office of Community Engagement

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: December 13, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 13, 2016) USF Sarasota-Manatee has established an Office of Community Engagement and appointed an administrator and program coordinator, moving the institution closer to becoming a “Carnegie Community Engaged” campus.

Amy Farrington has been named Administrator of the office and Katie O’Connor has been hired as Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Engagement for Academic and Student Affairs.

Together, the changes bring USFSM closer to being recognized as a community engaged campus, a classification accorded to select colleges and universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The designation is a key goal outlined in the USFSM’s recent strategic plan, “Focus on Quality 2020.”

Universities bearing the “Carnegie Community Engaged” classification are shown to be dedicated to quality teaching and learning as well as to their civic missions, including producing research to aid their communities.

“Establishing an Office of Community Engagement shows the commitment that our campus, the USF System and the state Board of Governors have for connecting higher education with the communities that we serve,” said Dr. Sandra Stone, USFSM’s regional chancellor. “Centralizing community engagement opportunities allows us to strengthen our ties with the community and ensure that the benefits are reciprocal in nature.”

To that end, this semester the campus established a community engagement office and hired Farrington and O’Connor to implement outreach objectives. The two were brought aboard last month.

“I am thrilled to join the team at USFSM and look forward to working towards mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and the community,” Farrington said. “There are so many incredible opportunities in the Sarasota-Manatee area to continue to work collaboratively to prepare educated, engaged citizens, address critical societal issues and contribute to the overall quality of life in this region.”

Most recently, Farrington served as Vice President of Public Policy for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. Before that, she served as Director of Administration and Donor Relations for ShelterBox USA, as well as provided legal counsel in private and local and state government capacities.

Farrington holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Florida as well as a M.S.A. in public administration and nonprofit management from the University of West Florida.

O’Connor recently served at Florida Gulf Coast University as an instructor in the College of Arts & Sciences and coordinator within the Office of Service Learning at the university.

Her work has earned her many accolades, including “Community Engagement Educator of the Year” (Florida Campus Compact, 2016) and “Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs” (Florida Campus Compact, 2014).

She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Florida Gulf Coast University and a master of arts in communication with a concentration in public service from Monmouth University. Currently, she’s pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership and change through Antioch University.

“I am excited to learn more about Sarasota-Manatee and the possibilities available to students to serve in the community, benefitting local agencies, while also effecting positive change and attaining learning goals and outcomes,” O’Connor said. “My goal is for students and faculty to collaborate with the local community to gain a better understanding of real issues and work to make the community a better place.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching last year certified 240 U.S. colleges and universities to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. Of those, 83 institutions received the classification for the first time, while 157 were re-classified after being classified originally in 2006 or 2008.

The classification is awarded every five years and USFSM is aiming to gain approval in 2020.

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