About the Office

The University of Minnesota systemwide Office for Public Engagement (OPE) was established in 2006 to further the integration of public engagement into the University's research and teaching functions. 

Studies have found that building a more contemporary "engaged campus" requires an intentional plan that moves the institution from an "outreach" framework (e.g., the university shares its expertise with the community to serve the needs of the public) to an "engagement" framework (e.g., the university and community co-construct and co-produce solutions to societal issues) (Holland, 2001).

Among the factors that promote the building of an engaged campus are the presence of a strategic plan promoting faculty and student academic engagement; reward systems for faculty community-engaged scholarship; incorporation of community partner expertise; accounting and assessment systems to measure the impact of engagement; administrative leadership; and advanced academically-based community engagement opportunities for students (Fitzgerald, Burack, & Seifer, 2011).

The Office for Public Engagement works with academic programs and engagement units on all five campuses to build capacity to produce high quality public engagement programs and initiatives.  OPE also connects the public engagement agenda to the work of the University's various administrative units including faculty affairs, undergraduate education, graduate education, student affairs, equity and diversity, international programs, extension, and others.

On a broad level, the Office for Public Engagement shepherds the goals of the University's Ten-Point Plan for Advancing and Institutionalizing Public Engagement.