"We promote learning, scholarship, and service that directly elaborate the relationship between the liberal arts and civic responsibility. We work to strengthen Dyson College's overall reputation as a leader in scholarship and learning that amplifies the dynamic between critical thinking, social responsibility, and professional development. And we develop productive partnerships with community agencies that lead to the programming of citizenship-building service opportunities for students, staff, and faculty," says Mary Ann Murphy, PhD, Director of the Center.
Because Dr. Murphy also serves as the Director of Project Pericles, the Center for Community Outreach at Dyson College is uniquely positioned to support the civic engagement goals of the university. The two programs work synergistically to foster a university culture of engagement with the issues. Project Pericles provides funding to support the development of community-based learning courses and the center uses its well developed, student-centered volunteer program and related community partnerships as a scaffold against which community-based learning is grafted. "We also work individually with faculty from all Pace schools to support the development of ‘best practices' community-based learning classes for the core curriculum," Dr. Murphy adds.
Award-winning recognition. The work of the Center for Community Outreach at Dyson College and Project Pericles was recently affirmed when Pace University was awarded the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Elective Designation for not only Outreach and Community Partnership but also for Curricular Engagement. Pace is one of only 65 colleges and universities in the nation to have received this designation.
Civic engagement and public value expansion at Pace. The statistics verify the center's success. In 2000, Pace had only one authentic community-based learning class. Notably, in the 2005-06 academic year, 73 sections of community-based learning classes were offered, generating nearly 12,000 volunteer hours. More than 90% of those courses were developed by the center. Additionally, the center supported more than 15 faculty in the development of either an article or a conference presentation on community-based learning and Pace's efforts to "educate for citizenship." Dr. Murphy explains, "The center develops the community placements for those classes through its partnerships and collaborations with numerous community organizations in New York City and Westchester County, New York. These organizations welcomed more than 1,600 Pace students involved in community-based learning courses in 2005-2006." This is independent of the volunteer program that also operates out of the center.
Pace University runs more than 70 courses a year that offer a community component as part of the civic engagement and public value requirement of the core curriculum, with 59 different courses approved as civic engagement and public value courses. "These courses are offered by every school within Pace University, with Dyson leading with 66% of the course sections offered this year, followed by Seidenberg, Lubin, School of Education, and Lienhard," says Dr. Murphy.
The Center for Community Outreach at Dyson College doesn’t only assist with courses. It was the lead department assisting in the university's Celebration of 100 Opportunities, where students, faculty, and staff participated in community service to celebrate 100 years of "Opportunitas." Thirty-four departments, more than 200 faculty and staff, and more than 1,000 students participated university-wide. The center supported this exciting endeavor by providing community contacts, funding, and supplies, as well as organizing travel.