ACE Annual Meeting Highlights Work to Reimagine the Carnegie Classifications

April 24, 2023

This year’s ACE Annual Meeting (ACE2023), held in Washington DC April 13-15, with more than 1,000 higher education leaders in attendance, featured a range of sessions on new efforts to modernize the Carnegie Classifications. Attendees were able to learn more about the current work and plans ahead for ACE’s partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which was announced in February 2022, to reimagine how our nation groups and categorizes its diverse higher education landscape. ACE is leading a broad effort to revamp the Carnegie Classifications as a catalyst for incentivizing and recognizing institutional behavior that advances equitable outcomes and learner-centered solutions.

The conference featured a plenary session along with four concurrent sessions focused on the past, present, and future of the Carnegie Classifications:

  • Fifty Years of Change and the Future of the Carnegie Classification. The plenary session featured Maria Spies, co-CEO and co-founder of Holon IQ; Doug Lederman, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed; Ted Mitchell, president of ACE; and Mushtaq Gunja, executive director of the Carnegie Classifications. The session began with an overview of the evolution of higher education since the classifications’ formation and a forecast of what may be ahead, paired alongside data about student and workforce needs moving forward. The discussion focused in particular on the growth of credentials and non-degree learning programs in recent years and ways alternative credentials and degrees should work together in support of students. The panelists noted that in many ways institutions are changing and adjusting based on demand and what may be coming, but they shared a number of ideas about how the sector could continue to respond and position itself to make the case that postsecondary education is relevant and important.

  • Reimagining the Future of the Carnegie Classification: 2023 Updates. Mushtaq Gunja, executive director of the Carnegie Classifications, and Sara Gast, its deputy executive director, shared an overview of the current Carnegie Classification system and the planned next steps for updating and adding to the classifications. They discussed their thinking around a variety of variables and data points to create multidimensional classifications that are better descriptors of institutions as compared to the single label used now. The plan to move forward kicked off with the recent launch of a new website. They shared plans to announce a revised framework for the universal classifications by 2024, with the release of the classifications themselves in early 2025.

  • The Future of Carnegie Electives. Marisol Morales, executive director of the Carnegie Elective Classifications, and Paul LeMahieu, senior vice president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, shared more about the current work of the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement and plans for the development of new elective classifications. They discussed how ACE and Carnegie are partnering to explore new possible elective classifications for a number of areas, including sustainability, indigenous-serving campuses, students connected to the military, and people impacted by the justice system. The process will continue with feedback from field experts and an announcement of the next elective classification launch later this year.

  • Internationalization of the Community Engagement Elective. This panel, featuring Lauren Bartshe, associate director of the Carnegie Elective Classifications; Mitra Gusheh, executive manager of social impact at the University of Technology Sydney; and Matthew Grant, director of community engagement at Simon Fraser University, discussed the ways nationally specific frameworks are being used to help assess community engagement. Panelists shared how Canada and Australia are currently piloting the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement framework. The panel explored how countries are learning from each other while also demonstrating how faculty and students engage with their communities in different ways.

  • Using Carnegie Classifications to Highlight Institutions That Create Social and Economic Mobility. Michael Itzkowitz, founder and president of the Higher Education Advisory Group, and Deborah Santiago, co-founder and chief executive officer at Excelencia in Education, joined Kyle Whitman, chair of the technical review panel for the Carnegie Classifications of Higher Education, in a session on the development of a new social and economic mobility classification. The discussion included an overview of the process for creating the new methodology and its potential components. The panel shared thoughts on the opportunity for creating better measurements of mobility and the broader impact of the novel classification.

For more on the Carnegie Classifications and to learn more about what’s next, continue to visit the new and updated website here.