CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 18, 2014) — Student affairs administrators and faculty from the University of Miami joined peer institutions and community partners at the 2014 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Conference (CLDE), held June 12-14 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.
To offer perspectives on community partnerships, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education – invited a number of key professionals who are the thought leaders on student learning, civic engagement, and democratic participation to participate in CLDE. The conference highlights the relationships between campus and community and the shared role of educating students to also be active citizens.
Patricia A. Whitely, UM’s vice president for student affairs and chair of NASPA’s board of directors, opened the four-day conference and introduced opening speaker Barbara Jacoby, faculty associate for leadership and community service-learning at the University of Maryland. The opening session, titled “Now What? Shaping the Future of Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement in Higher Education,” led into further discussions on how to connect students beyond their college campuses.
“During the past two years, the University of Miami has been an active participant of the NASPA LEAD Initiative,” Whitely said. “I’ve been thrilled and honored that we were initially invited to participate in NASPA’s network of institutions dedicated to developing students’ sense of civic identity. Civic engagement is a core value of higher education and will continue to play an instrumental role in our students’ development inside and outside of the classroom.”
UM has served as a pioneer in engaging its students for more than 25 years, with the establishment of a Volunteer Services Center in 1989. Now, UM integrates service across the campus and the greater Miami community through the William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, together with the Office of Civic and Community Engagement.
Andrew D. Wiemer, director of UM’s Butler Center, also led a session on the Civic Scholars Program—an innovative student affairs and academic affairs partnership—alongside Robin Bachin, UM assistant provost for civic and community engagement and Charlton W. Tebeau Associate Professor of History. UM’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement works to enhance University and community collaboration by engaging the University’s academic resources in the enrichment of civic and community life in local, national, and global communities.
“The conference was a wonderful opportunity to gather with educators from across the country and introduce them to our Civic Scholars Program,” Bachin said. “There was a great deal of enthusiasm about the program and questions about how our model could be replicated at other institutions.”
At CLDE, community partners HandsOn Miami, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Branches discussed their partnership experiences with Florida International University, St. Thomas University, and UM, respectively. The closing session, “What You Need to Know and Do to be an Effective Citizen,” was presented by Bob Graham, former Florida governor and U.S. senator.
As a participating institution in NASPA’s LEAD Initiative, UM encourages students’ civic development through thoughtful community partnerships, engaging leadership opportunities, and democratic participation.