Hiram E. FitzgeraldSince its inception, The Engaged Scholar Magazine has focused on representing the work of Michigan State University faculty and staff that mirrors the University's commitment to outreach and engagement.

MSU was one of the first institutions to formally define and implement outreach, which effectively embodied what has become known nationally and internationally as engagement scholarship (Fitzgerald, 2014). In 1993, a university committee commissioned by Provost David K. Scott defined outreach as a "scholarly endeavor that cuts across research, teaching, and service. It implies generating, transmitting, applying, and preserving knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences in ways that are consistent with university and unit missions" (Provost's Committee on University Outreach, 1993).

Three years later another MSU committee expanded the breadth and depth of faculty work recognized as engagement scholarship by broadening assessment criteria to emphasize four key components of engaged scholarly work. These criteria ask candidates undergoing reappointment, promotion, and tenure review to reflect deeply on their engaged scholarship accomplishments by describing the significance, context, scholarship, and impact of their work, both in the past and projected into the future (Committee on Evaluating Quality Outreach, 1996).

MSU also provided leadership for higher education's transformational change by developing the Outreach Engagement Measurement Instrument (OEMI; Michigan State University, 2004), a measurement tool to assess engagement scholarship within the context of its definition and expanded criteria (Church, Zimmerman, Bargerstock, & Kenney, 2003; Michigan State University, 2004). UOE draws on data to annually report quantitative and qualitative evidence of MSU's engagement scholarship; as of this writing, information has been provided by over 3,600 faculty and academic staff.

President Simon's efforts to invigorate and expand higher education's role in society (Simon, 2009, 2010) had particular meaning for UOE when, as provost, she expanded the responsibilities of the Office of University Outreach to be inclusive of the University's research and scholarly mission as well as its teaching/learning mission. When I became Assistant Provost for University Outreach (December 1, 2001), the charge was to create an academic support unit that could support colleges, departments, and schools to achieve the University's commitment to engagement by advising on policies related to engagement, developing evidence-based approaches to university-community engagement, generating assessment tools to demonstrate faculty and community outcomes related to engagement, and expanding MSU's national and international reputation for outreach and engagement scholarship.

At the time, the Office of University Outreach consisted of three units (Outreach Partnerships, Outreach Advancement, and Academic Service Learning) and one for which the office had oversight responsibilities (the Wharton Center for Performing Arts). As summarized in the timeline (page 3), not only did the name of the office change to include "engagement," but a number of support units were created or transferred to UOE.

Today, MSU has the most extensive academic support structure designed to advance its engagement scholarship mission in the nation. Supported by the University's general fund and by external grants and contracts, UOE serves all units across MSU's 17 colleges. MSU was an inaugural Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement institution and was reaccredited in 2015. Consistent with President Simon's charge to establish national and international leadership for engagement scholarship, members of the UOE staff play key leadership roles in the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, the International Association for Research in Service-learning and Civic Engagement, the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship, the Michigan Association for Evaluation, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council on Engagement and Outreach. UOE has also led and/or supported MSU participation with such organizations as Campus Compact and its initiative, The Research University Civic Engagement Network (TRUCEN); Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life; Community-Campus Partnerships for Health; the Talloires Network; and the APLU Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity.

UOE continues to focus on innovations in engagement scholarship within the context of one of the nation's major land grant and AAU research universities. For the past 13 years we have supported MSU colleges, departments, and schools, and we will intensify our efforts in the years to come. Our dissemination efforts, including the prior issues of The Engaged Scholar Magazine and e-Newsletter, have primarily examined the work of faculty and academic staff across the University. In this issue of the magazine, we report on highlights of our own current work and offer some perspective on the past 13 years of accomplishments during my tenure leading Michigan State University's Office of University Outreach and Engagement.

Our report is also integrally that of MSU's entire scholarly community. To recognize the depth and breadth of engaged scholarship embedded throughout MSU, we focus on aspects of outreach and engagement that reflect the alignment of MSU to its institutional mission to assure that our students are prepared to "contribute fully to society as globally engaged citizen leaders," that our research and creative activities "expand human understanding and make positive difference(s), both locally and globally," and "advance outreach, engagement, and economic development activities that are innovative, research-driven, and lead to a better quality of life for individuals and communities, at home and around the world" (Michigan State University, 2008).

  • Hiram E. Fitzgerald
  • Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement
  • University Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology


Church, R. L., Zimmerman, D. L., Bargerstock, B. A., & Kenney, P. A. (2003). Measuring scholarly outreach at Michigan State University: Definition, challenges, tools. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 8(1), 141-153. Retrieved from

Committee on Evaluating Quality Outreach. (1996, 2009). Points of distinction: A guidebook for planning and evaluating quality outreach. East Lansing: Michigan State University. Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, H. E. (2014). Knowledge, engagement and higher education in the United States and Canada. In C. Escrigas, J. G. Sanchez, B. Hall, & R. Tandon (Eds.), Higher Education in the World: Vol. 5. Knowledge, engagement and higher education: Rethinking social responsibility (pp. 227-244). Palgrave Macmillan.

Fitzgerald, H. E., Allen, A., & Roberts, P. (2010). Campus-community partnerships: Perspectives on engaged research. In H. E. Fitzgerald, C. Burack, & S. Seifer (Eds.), Handbook of Engaged Scholarship: Contemporary Landscapes, Future Directions: Vol. 2. Community-campus partnerships (pp. 5-28). East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Fitzgerald, H. E., Bruns, K., Sonka, S. T., Furco, A., & Swanson, L. (2012). Centrality of engagement in higher education. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(3), 7-27. Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, H. E., & Simon, L. A. K. (2012). The world grant ideal and engagement scholarship. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(3), 33-55. Retrieved from http://

Fitzgerald, H. E., & Zientek, R. (2015). Learning cities, systems change, and community engagement scholarship. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (145), pp. 21–33. DOI: 10.1002/ace.20120

Michigan State University. (2004). Outreach and Engagement Measurement Instrument [Computer software]. East Lansing: Michigan State University, National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement.

Michigan State University. (2008). MSU mission statement. East Lansing: Michigan State University, Board of Trustees. Retrieved from

Provost's Committee on University Outreach. (1993). University outreach at Michigan State University: Extending knowledge to serve society. East Lansing: Michigan State University. Retrieved from

Simon, L. A. K. (2009). Embracing the world grant ideal: Affirming the Morrill Act for a twenty-first century global society. East Lansing: Michigan State University. Retrieved from

Simon, L. A. K. (2010). Engaged scholarship in land-grant and research universities. In H. E. Fitzgerald, C. Burack, & S. Seifer (Eds.), Handbook of Engaged Scholarship: Vol. 1. The contemporary landscape: Institutional change (pp. 99-118). East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

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