I would like to respond to the July 15 Maine Voices column by Professor Howard Segal (“Out-to-pasture administrators should go back to the classroom”).

He states, ” ‘Community engagement’ is one of those academic buzzwords that sounds nice … .” He goes on to offer several possible definitions, all of which can be summed up by the concept of promotion of the university to the community.

Community engagement means nothing of the sort. It means using the resources of the university for the benefit of the community. It involves going into the various communities, listening hard and then finding or creating ways the university might help.

In fact, community engagement is one of the important tools for improving higher education’s core academic and research work, and it was recognized as such in 2006 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. But it has been an important part of publicly funded higher education since the Land Grant College Act of 1862.

Disparaging this renewed effort to reinvigorate the University of Southern Maine’s community engagement is shortsighted at best. At worst, it is self-destructive of higher education and a demonstration that Professor Segal should go back to research.