Conceptualizing Community Engagement: Starting a Campus-Wide Dialogue


  • Anthony M. Starke University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Keristiena Shenouda University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Deborah Smith-Howell University of Nebraska at Omaha



Landscape analysis, interviews, data collection


Institutions of higher education are increasingly compelled to produce evidence that illustrates their contribution to society. In this age of demonstrating value added, self-assessment is critical for urban and metropolitan universities. This study will explore the design and implementation of a landscape analysis – phase one of an in-depth self-assessment – at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). This process is intended to help universities gain a better understanding of how community engagement is conceptualized and institutionalized on their campus. A thorough understanding of the meaning of, and linguistics associated with, community engagement is imperative for the creation of community engagement measurement and assessment mechanisms. The authors will share the methodology and key findings, which include the discovery of domains of community engagement and acknowledgement of a spectrum of engagement. 

Author Biographies

Anthony M. Starke, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Anthony Starke, MPA, is a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Anthony holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Human Services from Old Dominion University as well as a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Master of Public Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Anthony works as graduate research assistant for the UNO Office of Academic Affairs where he assists with measurement, assessment, evaluation and research pertaining to university-wide community engagement. 

Keristiena Shenouda, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Keristiena Shenouda, MSc, is a project specialist at the Office of Academic Affairs. She leads the community engagement measurement and assessment group. Keristiena is also responsible for community engagement reporting, data gathering/analysis, and award applications. She holds a master’s degree from the University of London. 

Deborah Smith-Howell, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Deborah Smith-Howell, Ph.D., is the associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and the dean of graduate studies. Dr. Smith-Howell is a member of the UNO engagement cabinet and has administrative oversight over the Service Learning Academy and community engagement reporting. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.  


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