About Engagement

Hi, I’m Kathay Rennels. I’m the Associate
Vice President for Engagement at Colorado State University. Today we’re
going to have a conversation about Engagement. Engagement is really having
the ability to reach out statewide, to anyone in the state, to talk about what we
do is a university. The university has three missions: research, education, and
outreach. And outreach is one of those that’s pretty one-way. Engagement gives
the communities that are not associated directly in the community of Fort
Collins, the ability to have as much land grant experiences they want, and as they
need. So the opportunity for Engagement allows us to take all of the colleges,
all of the resources of the university, make them available to anyone in the
state. Engagement says, ‘Ask me what you want and let me see.’ We can’t always
deliver but we’re happy to make sure that you’re connected where you need to
be. So the opportunity for Engagement, and regional engagement, says that your land
grant university is trying very hard to be as accessible to you. Many times
people say ‘We don’t even know what’s here.’ Our own faculty many times don’t
know what all of the other faculty is doing. So Engagement is not only across
the state, Engagement is internal to our own faculty. So for Engagement to work
there’s got to be willingness. Outreach is a one-way process, the
ability to give information is a one-way process, it’s a very end result. I have
information you get information, it’s not an Engagement process. If you’re asking
people to engage you have to be willing to listen to them, you have to be willing
to actually act on what they’re talking about, and you have to be willing to have
a considered conversation down the road. It is not a one-time opportunity.
Engagement is a long-term relationship, and the deeper the relationships the
better the engagement. If you have a successful Engagement opportunity, people
come back. It is a continued dialogue. The beauty of Engagement is that it’s
stimulating. It gives people something to look at some place to put their passion.
The detriment to Engagement is that people get excited, and passionate, and they want to
do more. We want to make sure we don’t over promise, but we also want to make
sure that we don’t say no. We want to be say, ‘We would love to engage you in that
conversation, where do you anticipate this going?’ Colorado State has put enormous
resources behind Engagement and its support of Extension and it’s counties,
and it’s faculty. Colorado State is one of the premier universities to do this. As a
matter of fact, right now I think in the makeup of Engagement, Extension, online
services, we are the only university left in that space. So, our office really
brokers if you will, connections and engagement. The folks that benefit
from that our Extension, our regions, our county, and our university. When you’re
comparing and contrasting, research and engagement, you need to look at the
conversation. Research is a component of an engagement process. It may bring in
multiple researchers. Its many different subject matters. The Engagement person
and the Engagement opportunity really is that coordinator. That ability to bring
deep research, multiple subjects into the same conversation. Once you look at that
same conversation, you end up with an Engagement story. You end up with a story
about how multiple entities have come together, to service a region, a citizen,
population, or a problem. You can’t look at one piece of research to solve a
problem. You have to look at how they partner. That story of partnering is an
Engagement story. To continue to engage the community in that conversation,
creates a loop. You begin in Engagement, you bring in researchers, you bring in
faculty, you bring in community, you bring in funding, and you go back and say ‘How
is it doing?’ That relationship is the basis of Engagement. But that that
relationship is also what continues that engagement. An outreach story has a final
end. An Engagement story never has an end, and if you’re going to be a viable land
grant university, it should never have an end.

Michael Martin

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