Higher education institutions are established to accomplish three major inter-related missions: teaching, research, and community service (CS). That is, community services and engagement (CSE) is one of the three major pillars of universities. Consequently, there is a strong desire to see universities play a more active role in development. In particular, the academic community has been calling for a “Triple Helix Model” that underlines the need for universities to move to a third “revolution” in this 21st century (societal development), after a first revolution (teaching, and a second revolution (research) in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively. There has also been a growing recognition attached to universities’ role in community development within the national policy landscape of many countries. In Ethiopia, the Higher Education Proclamation No. 650/2009 clearly outlines the political agenda and objectives that are particularly relevant to university community service.
Jimma University has been extensively engaged in the provision of wide array of community services. Traditionally, the implementation of community services at JU have been taking place within the context of its unique and innovative educational philosophy, the CBE (Community Based Education). However, a significant portion of the university’s developmental activities also happen outside the CBE. The office of Community Services and Engagement (CSE) of JU is the institutional organ that is responsible for the latter. The office aims at enhancing JU’s commitment to serving the local community through institutionalization and better coordination of the practice of community services of the university.