The event was co-sponsored by CSCC and the Tennessee Campus Compact, whose mission is to provide leadership, resources, and advocacy to enhance student learning by increasing the capability of Tennessee institutions of higher education to embed civic engagement.
The Tennessee Campus Compact is a member of the Campus Compact, a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents — representing some 6 million students — who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.
As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact promotes public and community service that develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and community-based learning into the curriculum.
Campus Compact’s membership includes public, private, two- and four-year institutions across the spectrum of higher education. Campus Compact advances the public purposes of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.
Dr. Carl Hite, CSCC president, provided a brief welcome to the group of community college representatives on the day of the summit. “I think we are all aware of the many changes taking place in Tennessee — it is almost overwhelming,” stated Hite.
“When I see what service-learning does for an individual and the skills that they obtain by participating in service-learning, everyone benefits. I just think that everyone needs to be doing service-learning. I have been so blessed here at the college with some very wonderful folks who have done an amazing job with our service-learning program.”
Representatives from Cleveland State, Chattanooga State, Jackson State, Northeast State, Pellissippi State, Roane State, Southwest Tennessee, and Volunteer State Community Colleges were all in attendance at the mini-summit designed to allow community colleges in attendance to discuss and share ideas and issues related to service-learning.
Colleges were asked to provide a brief synopsis of service-learning programs at each campus. Some topics discussed were service-learning’s impact on student retention and graduation, risk management, service-learning course designation, internal tracking and reporting, student transcripts, diplomas, and transferability of SLE courses.
Dr. Mani S. Hull, executive director of the Tennessee Campus Compact, said, “The mission of the Tennessee Campus Compact is to convene presidents, chief academic officers, deans, department heads, faculty, and sometimes students to look into how we, as a state, look at the civic purposes of higher education.”
Hull noted, “Susan, (Webb-Curtis, CSCC director of Cooperative Education and Service-Learning) Sherry, (Holloway, CSCC Service-Learning coordinator) and I felt that it was time the community colleges as a whole make the time to come together. Our presidents do at their level, but this was the first at our level. I am looking forward to many more in the future.”
Webb-Curtis said, “We were fortunate to be able to hire Sherry part time, and then we received a Title III grant and service-learning was a component in that grant, and we were ... able to hire her full-time. Sherry is with us to help implement the grant, and that has been wonderful.
“I have been at CSCC for almost 25 years and have had the opportunity to work in several areas at the college. Working to initiate service-learning has been a great experience. It is so rewarding to work closely with other faculty members who want to incorporate this innovative teaching strategy into their courses. Sherry has really helped take our service-learning program far beyond where I had it and I really want to thank her for that! We are at a whole new level with our program, thanks to Sherry’s efforts and our faculty’s commitment.”
Dr. Annie Gray, professor of English and Service-Learning coordinator at Pellissippi State Community College, said, “This particular event is really important for all of us to have an awareness of what kind of caliber of support Tennessee Campus Compact can provide us. From the very beginning of our program, we invited Tennessee Campus Compact folks to help educate our campus about what service-learning is. These people gave us their wisdom to teach our faculty.
“They provided us with a real coalition of support so we could get our program off the ground. That fact has really laid the groundwork for what we have been able to do in such a short period of time so Cleveland State holding this event is another example of how important it is to come together and listen to each other’s struggles and successes and share ideas.
“One of the most attractive things about service-learning as a program coordinator is the spirit of sharing. Nobody is proprietary about what it is that they are doing. They readily offer their advice, so I am just thrilled that we are doing an event such as this one.”
Holloway, said, “CSCC embarked on service-learning in 2008 and Dr. Hite asked Susan (Webb-Curtis) to be the architect of it. She has done a tremendous job. She worked with two AmeriCorps Vistas before my arrival here.
“Today, we have two stand-alone service-learning classes and a number of our general courses have incorporated service-learning in some way, and close to 55 percent have incorporated service-learning into their classes since 2008, so we are experiencing some growth, which we are proud of.”
Dr. Denise King, vice president for Academic Affairs, said, “As a newcomer to this campus, I can tell you that service-learning is everywhere on our campus. Over half of our faculty has incorporated service-learning into their courses, and it is continuing to grow.
“One of the things I feel our team is doing really well is to celebrate and to share what is going well with service-learning with our community so that will inspire them to participate.”