Humble but mighty, Buena Vista University Senior focuses on lasting leadership

Zach Ahrens, a graduating senior Human Performance major at Buena Vista University (BVU), is the recipient of this year’s Iowa Campus Compact Student Leadership Award. Since his first-year of college, Zach has pushed himself to step outside of his comfort zone to engage deeply in community work. “I took risks by applying for positions that I was not entirely comfortable with at first,” says Zach of his path to becoming a community engagement leader. “Those challenges helped mold me into who I am today, and I am grateful for the mentors who have empowered me.” One of those mentors, Dr….

Civic engagement isn’t just about being informed

An idea from Iowa Campus Compact in 28 seconds. This blog is a part of our “An Idea from Iowa Campus Compact Series” which highlights articles, research, best practices, or other resources in civic engagement. A figure from Marcia’s article which highlights the percentage of cities that provided civic engagement opportunities in 2006 and 2009. Marcia Godwin of the University of La Verne posted a bunch of research on the rates of civic engagement in US cities during the recent recession on the London School of Economics and Political Science blog. Her point? Cities increased their use of civic engagement tools in order…

Faculty member engages community to make teaching fun

Katelin Gannon describes her choice to include service in her classroom as a “no-brainer.” For Iowa Campus Compact, it was also a “no-brainer” to select her for the 2015 Engaged Campus Scholarship Award.Gannon has worked as a lecturer of Exercise Science and an assistant soccer coach at Central College since 2010. She holds a Master’s degree in exercise physiology. She has included service-learning in her courses all five years of teaching and engaged in service-learning scholarship since 2012. Central College’s Katelin Gannon received the 2015 Engaged Campus Scholarship Award for demonstrating her leadership and innovation in engaged scholarship. “Ms. Gannon creates an…

“Dr. Joe” Moravec walks the talk of Mercy College of Health Sciences’ mission

Since 2004, Dr. Joseph Moravec has served as Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Mercy College of Health Science (MCHS) in Des Moines. “Dr. Joe” as he’s known by many, has gone above and beyond his job description to ensure that the college is meeting its mission through the integration of civic engagement, service-learning, and servant leadership into the experiences of his students and colleagues. “Dr. Moravec has contributed to a collegial and caring environment in fostering positive and unique mission and community-focused student learning at Mercy College,” said Mercy College President and Iowa Campus Compact Board Chair Barbara Decker. “From…

Iowa State University’s Susan Erickson makes magic happen

This blog is one in a series over the next few weeks featuring our 2015 Engaged Campus Award winners. M. Susan Erickson gets to make magic happen. In her role as coordinator of the PLaCE (Partnering Landscape and Community Enhancement) Program at Iowa State University she brings together communities who need development and design services and students who need to learn to provide those services. She also often gets to involve one of ISU’s extension offices in this work in what she calls a “trifecta.” The PLaCE Program was founded in 2001 and Susan has been the coordinator from the…

Platform Partnerships

President, Campus Compact|
May 7, 2015

Those of us whose work focuses on connecting higher education with the needs and opportunities in communities spend a lot of time thinking about partnerships. We don’t get anything done except through partnerships. If faculty and staff ever thought colleges and universities could act unilaterally for community benefit, that view is, fortunately, mostly extinct. There is a consensus that universities need to work with partners who possess community knowledge, relationships, and the credibility that comes with both. A lot has been written about university:community partnerships. The bulk of published work on partnerships focuses on what might be thought of as…

An Observation About the Mission of Higher Education

President, Campus Compact|
April 29, 2015

You will often hear people speak about the tripartite mission of colleges and universities: teaching, research, and service. I think that way of describing the mission of higher education institutions reflects a basic misconception. Colleges and universities exist to serve the public. That is why all public and non-profit private universities are publicly subsidized—either directly or through tax exemption. Colleges and universities do not, in other words, have three missions. They have one: service to the public. They achieve that mission through teaching and research. That is why we should constantly ask how effectively the teaching and research of our…

The Priority of Democracy for Campus Compact

President, Campus Compact|
April 27, 2015

Campus Compact is a network of extraordinary internal diversity. We comprise 34 state and regional Compacts and 1100 member institutions across the United States and beyond. Our members are public and private, two-year and four-year, graduate and undergraduate. One result of that diversity is that it can be difficult to understand what Campus Compact is. When you look at us in action, you see us doing a lot of different things. There is a natural tendency to reduce us to those activities. So some people might think Campus Compact is a service learning organization. Others might think we are a…

On Wisconsin

President, Campus Compact|
April 21, 2015

One of the many pleasures of my job is traveling around the country seeing the inspiring work of our state and regional Campus Compacts and the faculty, staff, and students of our member colleges and universities. Last week, I was in Madison for the annual Wisconsin Campus Compact Civic Engagement Institute. It was a daylong gathering featuring an intriguing keynote address by Ed Morrison, founder of Strategic Doing, located at Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development. I had the opportunity to sit down with chancellors and presidents, participate in the introduction of WiCC’s talented new executive director, and cheer along…

Campus Compact’s Thirtieth Anniversary

President, Campus Compact|
April 21, 2015

“In the face of growing complexity and danger in the problems facing American society, there are clear signs that self-interest is undermining public interest. There is todaya dangerous mismatch between the country’s urgent need for civic mindedness and the parochial attitudes of its citizens. The intense demand for economic, social, and political renewal requires a far greater sense of public purpose.” Those are the opening lines of the background information provided to attendees at the first meeting of the Coalition of College Presidents for Civic Responsibility, held at Georgetown University in January of 1986. By the end of that year,…

The Skills to Make Local Change

President, Campus Compact|
February 24, 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week about Dartmouth’s effort to fight back against its culture of binge drinking and sexual assault. The pessimism among students about the likelihood of success reminded me of conversations I had with students when I was working at Princeton. I was co-teaching a seminar on social entrepreneurship, in which the students were developing proposals to do things like end global poverty. They were all quite confident that they could lead systemic change to produce major impact.  Inspired in part by the work of Bringing Theory to Practice, I opened a conversation one day with…

Fostering Student Success Across the Education Continuum

President, Campus Compact|
February 17, 2015

A new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania paints a clear picture of how deeply economic inequality is integrated into higher education in the United States. The report shows that 18-24 year olds from the top income quintile are nearly twice as likely to enroll in post-secondary education as their counterparts from the bottom quintile. Young people from the top quintile are more than eight times as likely as young people from the bottom quintile to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24. In 1970, those in the top quintile…

Student Civic Learning Depends on Institutional Commitment to Change

President, Campus Compact|
February 9, 2015

On Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to deliver the closing keynote at the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values at Florida State University. The Dalton Institute is an annual gathering of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who care about preparing college students for lives of effective public participation. The theme of this year’s institute was, “Widening Inequalities: Educating Students to Be Fair and Equitable in the World They Will Lead.” Ever since Aristotle, philosophers and social scientists have understood that exemplars make a difference: If you see your parents acting justly, that’s likely to have a big impact…

Response to Rankings

January 28, 2015

KerryAnn O’Meara wrote a very informative comment in response to my post on rankings. I encourage you to take a look and join the conversation. Read it here.

Helping Community Colleges Succeed

January 26, 2015

Following President Obama’s call for free community college, there has been much discussion of the role of community colleges in increasing access to college and improving our society. Predictably, opponents of the president’s proposal have pointed to low completion rates to support the claim that community colleges are a lost cause. The facts don’t support the conclusion. Compared to other institutions of higher education, community colleges disproportionately serve socioeconomically vulnerable and underprepared students. If you focus on graduation rates for this population, community colleges end up looking pretty much like four-year colleges. Claims that for-profits do better with the same…

What is to be done about rankings?

President, Campus Compact|
January 20, 2015

Join me in a thought experiment. Let’s start with the premise that colleges and universities—those that are publicly funded and those that receive a public subsidy through tax exemption—should serve the public. From there, we can conclude that rankings should reward colleges and universities that serve the public well (even if they also reward other things). How do our current ranking systems do? Before answering, I want to note that rankings are on the agenda for people who care about the public purposes of higher education all over the world. I was recently at the Talloires Network Leaders  Conference in South…

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