College and University Engagement: Collaboration U

College and University Engagement:  Collaboration U

How to connect institutional, community, and scholarly activities for the benefit of all.

There's a quiet convergence happening around institutions of higher education.  It goes beyond Service Learning, beyond Community Relations, and beyond traditional Institutional Development.  It leads us to new approaches in research and learning, to effective new institutional structures, and to new development opportunities. 

What I see at the confluence is Engagement, our push toward positive, collaborative action for the larger good.  I've participated in this push from every role and perspective, from university administrator to community partner, from academic researcher to economic developer.   I share lessons from these experiences and facilitate campus collaboration with you for the benefit of faculty, staff, students, business, government, and community stakeholders.


What is Engagement?

College and University Engagement means innovative learning, research, and development practices that build around university relationships.  Focusing on assets, instead of needs, stakeholders quickly discover mutual interests and generate collaborations that really work.

Luther supports these practices in the classroom, in the community, and in the Boardroom, drawing on practical facilitation methods and unusual theoretical insight.  In this way, Luther helps lift up and strengthen a culture of opportunity, intellectual curiosity, and shared investment around campus, for both institutional and scholarly advancement. 

Use Luther's College and University Engagement to:

  • strengthen your existing efforts in community partnership, service learning, action research, and institutional advancement
  • help you recognize and tap potential partners, both on campus and off, to get things done.
  • help collaborators take actions that are more successful because they meet multiple interests.
  • draw connections between scholarly work and institutional development.
  • renew a sense of collegiality and community.
  • save money and strengthen fundraising.

Strengths on your side: Engagement

"I've discovered connections I never imagined.  That's strengthened my role and position on campus, and highlighted the value of our efforts to the whole college." 

College faculty leader

    Been There, Appreciates That!   Luther has personally experienced University Engagement in many roles around campus, from administrator to public official, from economic developer to scholar, from teacher to community partner, from engaged student to foundation officer.  He's able to view matters from the perspectives of stakeholders and to lift up those perspectives for the collective good.  And participants relate to Luther's style and approach, across the board.

    Skilled at Recognizing and Tapping Overlooked Assets.  Luther went from Harvard and the Chicago Graduate School of Business to work in the Chicago ghetto, finding special gifts and strengths among different people in different contexts.  He's helped lead the national shift toward Positive Rural Development, and he's raised funding where others said it couldn't be done.  Luther sees opportunities in unusual places, and he knows how to facilitate groups and communities to do the same.

    Understands the Network Dynamics of Higher Education Institutions and Communities.  Institutions of Higher Education are special creatures.  Traditional business and organizational development approaches can rub participants the wrong way.  But Luther has made a real breakthrough in our understanding of the kind of networked dynamics that operate in and around campus.  His Asset Mapping and related methods work because they help participants contribute their own assets and advance their own interests as part of the larger good.

Click here for more on Luther's background in University Engagement.

College and University Engagement: Luther in Action

Luther is sometimes brought in by university officials, sometimes by faculty in a certain field of study, sometimes by students groups, and sometimes by community partners.  Often, he is asked to help out in a variety of ways on the same visit:

    Campus-wide inspiration:  Luther gave the annual address for the "Community, Agency, and Action Lectureship Series" at Cornell College.  This talk lead to new strategies for college fund developers, advanced the service learning program, inspired student learners in several majors, and gave strength and legitimacy to the scholarly work of faculty.

    Diffusing tension.  A large urban university had a strained relationship with a bordering neighborhood.  Luther led Asset Mapping sessions and action planning to facilitate "win-win-win" projects leading to new funding and visible collaboration.

    Student leadership development.  Students from 3 colleges and from high schools across the state recruited Luther for the keynote presentation at the Michigan Youth Symposium.

    Connecting the dots.  In a single visit as Dean's Fellow at Texas Tech University, Luther consulted with the Deans of two colleges, facilitated faculty planning, lectured on the role of engagement and collaboration in academic disciplines, and trained groups of faculty, staff, and community leaders for successful partnerships.  Months later, stakeholders were sharing and supporting these efforts and wider collaboration around the campus.

Who uses Engagement?

Leaders and management groups from universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, research institutes, and other institutions of higher education.  These leaders look to Luther for help bringing together and facilitating diverse stakeholders within the institution.  Luther is also asked to consult with leaders on financial strategy and institutional development.

Service Learning programs ask Luther to orient and inspire youth participants to a deeper understanding, or to consult with and train staff to take their efforts to a higher level of civic engagement.

Development and/or Community Relations Offices look to Luther for strategic planning consultation or for facilitation of stakeholder groups.

Academic centers work with Luther to incorporate Engagement thinking and strategy into research and learning on disciplines ranging from the arts to business, sciences to education, and design to technology, often on interdisciplinary efforts.

How can I use Engagement?

We are a growing network.  Help make the connections!

Read the book:  Campus Compact is widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of Service Learning, and now in the emerging movement toward Engagement.  Luther has worked with Campus Compact on campuses and in an online dialog of practitioners.  This work resulted in the publication of Civic Engagement in Higher Education:  Reflection, Power, Evaluation, Risk Management, co-written with Campbell, Hamerlinck, Kim-Han, Morton, and Pribbenow, 2007.  Get it from Campus (

Build connections in your own institution of higher educationIt's not unusual for Luther to meet with people from the same institution who have mutual interests around Engagement but are not aware of each other's efforts.  As Engagement grows, you may find colleagues in places and roles you wouldn't expect.  Put out a call and see who responds.

Build connections in your field
.  If you are thinking about an Engagement issue how to reimagine publications and tenure, for example, or how to reorganize fundraising and development for institutional advancement there are people at other institutions dealing with similar issues.  Work to help each other.

Network.  In months to come we'll be providing more ways to share and collaborate with other leaders in this field on this website.  Meanwhile, check the "Links" section of this website and our social networking connections like Facebook and Linked In.

Engage Luther K. Snow.

    Promote Luther to be a speaker and presenter on your campus Luther's presentations are well received by faculty, students, staff, and community partners alike, because he combines hands-on, down-to-earth experience with big picture insight and intelligence.  Luther's presentations can fit with a wide variety of fields, contexts, and settings, to build support and understanding for your efforts.   [Speaking]

    Hire Luther to facilitate and lead a workshop or series of workshops for your group on campus or campus/community partnership.  Luther is a premier facilitator who uses a mix of interactive process, dialog, story, and presentation to help participants find opportunities for collaboration and Engagement.  [Facilitation]

    Engage Luther to consult with your Engagement leaders. Because Luther has played so many roles in Engagement, he is able to recognize and develop networked strategies from your existing efforts, for funding, for support, and for impact.  [Consulting]

Thank you for your Engagement!