The Outreach and Engagement Measurement Instrument (OEMI)

Online Survey of Faculty Outreach and Engagement Accomplishments

Ensuring that universities direct some of their intellectual resources and research discoveries to benefit communities is a significant part of the mission of land-grant institutions such as Michigan State University. It is increasingly important that these universities be able to demonstrate to the public that they are fulfilling this part of their mission effectively. Toward this end, MSU developed the OEMI, which collects data about outreach and engagement activities.

Each year, faculty and academic staff are asked to report their teaching, research, and service conducted for the direct benefit of audiences external to the academy. The first part of the OEMI (sections 1 - 3) gathers numerical data about outreach activities along seven dimensions:

  • Time spent
  • Social issues
  • Boldness By Design imperatives
  • Forms
  • Locations
  • Non-university participants
  • External funding and in-kind support

The last section asks for descriptive information about purposes, methods, disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, impacts on ongoing research, and impacts on external audiences. This information enables the University to showcase its faculty's contributions to the public that supports it.

Used for institutional reporting since 2004, MSU now has one of the most sophisticated databases of scholarly outreach and engagement information within higher education. The OEMI has also been utilized at other institutions across the country.

Guest accounts for the OEMI Web site are available. To request one, visit and fill in the form.

What are OEMI Data Used For?

The OEMI data are aggregated and are used for:

Describing the University's outreach and engagement activity to the public
The University can provide examples of faculty projects to publicize its success in using its resources to help others.

Assessment and strategic planning
Deans and other unit and central administrators can assess how individual academic units contribute to fulfilling the institution's outreach and engagement mission and how those contributions are changing over time. The data are also used as part of the metrics profile for annual planning and budgeting, and for evaluating the extent and breadth of the University's commitment to serving groups and organizations outside the academy.

Benefiting faculty
Respondents are able to print or download a summary report of their outreach activities for annual merit reviews.

Providing a basis for cross-institutional comparisons
Many other public research institutions are making a commitment to measure their outreach and engagement activity. Data such as those collected by the OEMI could eventually provide a basis for cross-institutional comparisons.