An Exploration of Two Community Advisory Boards within Community Engagement Centers at Institutions of Higher Education

Elizabeth Cannon, University of Pennsylvania


Civic engagement has become an important part of the educational landscape at institutions of higher education in the United States. The development of mutually-beneficial community-university partnerships has become a common interest for practitioners and researchers as the rise in civic engagement across higher education has grown. Institutions of higher education began to collaborate with communities as a way to connect intellectual, human, and financial resources to solve real-world community problems (Benson, Harkavy & Puckett, 1996). However, building mutually-beneficial partnerships between communities and institutions, often distinguished by reciprocity, shared goals, and effective communication (Bringle, Games, & Malloy, 1999; Harkavy, 1998; Harkavy & Benson, 1998; Jacoby, 2003; Pompa, 2002) is a complex endeavor. The partnerships between communities and universities often involve challenges such as paternalism, unequal power, elitism, clashes in values, and often-wrought histories (Strier, 2014). As a way to support building partnerships based in mutuality, and to address some of the challenges present in the complexity of community-university partnerships, community engagement centers on college and university campuses have created Community Advisory Boards (CABs). While Community Advisory Boards have become a structure within the practitioner-realm of community engagement work within higher education, there are gaps in the higher education literature and research that investigate CABs as models aimed to support and strengthen partnerships between communities and universities. This qualitative multi-site case study aims to fill the gaps through a comparative exploration of two Community Advisory Boards at Philadelphia area institutions of higher education. The CABs are housed within two different community engagement centers. The two CABs are located within Drexel University’s Dornsife Center and the Community College of Philadelphia’s Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership. Through archival data, interviews, observations, surveys, memo writing, and member checks, I analyze and synthesize the similarities, differences, and patterns across these two cases by exploring the role, responsibilities and functions of the CABs and the successes and challenges to building strong mutually beneficial partnerships between the community and the institutions of higher education.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration

Recommended Citation

Cannon, Elizabeth, "An Exploration of Two Community Advisory Boards within Community Engagement Centers at Institutions of Higher Education" (2022). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI29064553.