Gearing up for Back-to-School with Collaboratory


Fall 2020 is a semester for the record books, as institutions across the country navigate the difficult task of carrying on education and engagement during a pandemic.  To kick off this unusual academic year, administrators within the Collaboratory Community of Practice convened to discuss some of the challenges they are facing as individuals committed to ensuring their institutions continue to leverage community engagement as a means to advancing their institutional missions.

For most administrators, they envision the bulk of their work this Fall semester to include:

  • Assisting and providing professional development resources for faculty and staff who are carrying out engagement that is primarily virtual,
  • Identifying external funding and/or advocating for internal funding and resource allocation as it relates to community engagement, and
  • Collecting and disseminating community engagement data as it relates to institutional initiatives (e.g. strategic plan goals, anti-racism, Sustainable Development Goals).
    • In direct response to the current pandemic and nationwide protests for racial justice, institutions are working to frame community engagement data through these different lenses as institution-wide initiatives have pivoted in response to urgent needs.


As their work specifically relates to collecting and sharing community engagement data through Collaboratory, administrators are collectively working this coming academic year to:

  • Collect and leverage data around a specific focus area (e.g. K-12 education, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, virtual engagement),
  • Capture Fall 2020 course-based engagement (e.g. community-based learning courses, internships, practicums) in an effort to know exactly where their students are – virtually or in-person – if COVID demands an abrupt change of plans, and
  • Disseminate Collaboratory data among internal stakeholders, highlighting continued engagement during COVID to emphasize the inherent necessity of engaging with the community during times of great need.

To assist administrators with the vital work they are doing on their campuses, Collaboratory is proud to provide ongoing resources and supports, as well as launch a new Collaboratory Research Fellows program!

Collaboratory Research Fellows

The Collaboratory Research Fellowship program recognizes exemplary and emerging scholar-practitioners who are committed to advancing the field of community engagement. Fellows explore research and programmatic efforts that enact Collaboratory’s mission and support member institutions and the broader field of higher education community engagement. The fellowship is designed to give practitioner-scholars a national platform to pursue research and programmatic ideas that correlate with ongoing Collaboratory initiatives.  This academic year Collaboratory will support three Research Fellows who will work around three distinct areas of Collaboratory data and use.

Resources and Supports for Collaboratory Administrators

  • Administrator Coffee Breaks
    • Monthly virtual conveenings to discuss issues of Collaboratory implementation, use, and data reporting
  • Collaboratory Scholars
    • Monthly convenings with graduate and undergraduate students that assist with Collaboratory use on campus to discuss community engagement and professional development opportunities
  • Anti-Racism Working Group
    • Monthly discussions among administrators interested in leveraging Collaboratory data to address institutional policy and practice through an anti-racist lens
  • Slack Channel
    • Virtual space for administrators to ask questions and learn from each other and Collaboratory staff
  • Understanding Engagement in Times of Crisis
    • Initiative in partnership with AASCU’s American Democracy Project, offering AASCU institutions the opportunity to collaborate and deepen their understanding of community engagement in a time of pandemic

Want to learn more about Collaboratory?

If your institution is currently using Collaboratory and you would like to learn more about resources, supports, and the Administrator Community of Practice, reach out to Lauren Wendling.

If your institution is not yet using Collaboratory, email to learn more about how to leverage Collaboratory to tell your institution’s story of engagement.