The University Record, September 17, 1997

Community service-learning center launched

At last week's dedication of the Center for Learning through Community Sevice, Director Barry Checkoway (left) paid tribute to the thousands of U-M students who have participated in community service programs over the years. Eli Segal (right) was one of those students. Now chair of the board of the Coproration for National Service, Segal volunteered for the Washtenaw County Legal Aid Society when a Law School student here. He told the gathering that the experience shaped his legal and public service career. Segal is chair of the Center's board. The Center, he said, will provide an opportunity for the University to 'see the merger between service and academic research.' Photos by Bob Kalmbach

By Janet Nellis Mendler
News and Information Services

September 17, 1997

The Center for Learning through Community Service celebrated its launch Sept. 12 during an open house and a program that included a presentation from the U-M student who first suggested that the University consider establishing a center to coordinate its community service activities.

Mona Hanna, a senior from Royal Oak who serves on the Center's board of directors, called her first community service project a "transforming experience." Every student, she said, should leave the University "imbued with the values of community service that will shape the rest of their lives."

Eli Segal, chairman of the Center's board and a Law School graduate, said establishment of a center for community service is a mechanism for changing the way we live. He paid special tribute to the Center's director, social work Prof. Barry Checkoway, noting that "he is known nationally as a leader in community service." Segal is chairman of the board of the Corporation for National Service in Washington, D.C., and formerly was the CNS chief executive officer.

The Center, the former Pound House day care center at 1024 Hill St., is a meeting place to strengthen service and learning on campus and in the community, according to Checkoway. It initially will be home to Project Community, Project SERVE, Michigan Neighborhood Americorps Program, America Reads, and faculty programs involving community-based research.

Checkoway says no other university operates a community service learning center that is as comprehensive as U-M's. "In its efforts to strengthen student service and learning, to involve faculty through teaching and research, and to build university-comm unity partnerships to the same degree as we are, and will do, the University of Michigan is a leader."

The Center was established last year to engage students and faculty in community service and academic learning in order to promote civic participation, build community capacity and enhance the educational process.

"Universities are civic institutions with responsibility to serve the society of which they are a part," Checkoway says. At a time when a growing number of citizens have reduced their engagement and withdrawn from participation in the community, universities are ideally positioned to renew their original mission of preparing people for active citizenship and developing knowledge for the welfare of society.

President Lee C. Bollinger told the guests that "you can't think about national pride unless you have people who feel for their community." Part of an academic community's role, he said, is to "puzzle over what our role is in the world. How do we merge the doing with our educational mission?"

Engaging students in learning and leadership through community service and academic study is an important goal of the Center, as is enabling faculty members to integrate service into teaching and to conduct research responsive to community needs, Checkoway says.

Project Community has existed since the 1970s. Students enroll in classes that take them into urban elementary classrooms, state prisons and community centers and institutions throughout Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Project SERVE coordinates the efforts of more than 2,000 students in volunteer placement and service programs, including Community Plunge, Into the Streets, Acting Upon the Dream and alternative breaks that take students to sites nationwide.

The Michigan Neighborhood Americorps program, the largest in Michigan, will work with 20 community partners in the Detroit area, an increase from 12 last year. Approximately 70 people participate, including 10 high school students, 10 U-M undergraduates and 20 graduate students; the remainder are Detroit area residents. In his remarks, Segal noted that the national Americorps program was launched "three years to-the-day that we are here to celebrate the opening of the University's Center for Learning through Community Service."

A new service program this year is the Michigan America Reads Tutoring Corps. The Center also publishes the Journal of Community Service Learning.

Other speakers at the dedication ceremony included Regent Olivia Maynard and Maureen Hartford, vice president for student affairs. Hartford shares administrative responsibility for the Center with Walter Harrison, vice president for university relations. Checkoway thanked both for putting together a group that launched the Center. Hartford praised Regent Philip Power for his inspiration and support in the years of planning for the Center.


Center for Learning through Community Service Board Members

Barry Checkoway, professor of social work and director of the Center for Learning through Community Service, ex officio

Peter DeVaux of Verona, Va., head of The Fordney Group

C. Wendall Dunbar, Ann Arbor, principal of Dunbar and Martell and treasurer of the Towsley Foundation

Michelle Engler of Lansing, Michigan's First Lady and chair of the Michigan Community Service Commission

Mona Hanna of Royal Oak, student, class of 1998

Walter Harrison, vice president for university relations, ex officio

Maureen Hartford, vice president for student affairs

Paul Hillegonds, Detroit, president of Detroit Renaissance and former speaker of the House of Representatives, Lansing

Dorothy Johnson, Grand Haven, president of the Council of Michigan Foundations

Colleen Keast , Benton Harbor, president of the Whirlpool Foundation

Thomas Kinnear, vice president for development and the Maynard Phelps Professor of Business Administration

Olivia Maynard, Flint, Regent and president of the Michigan Prospect

Heath Meriwether, publisher of the Detroit Free Press

Judith O'Connor, Washington, D.C., president and CEO, National Center for Nonprofit Boards

Kathy Power, Ann Arbor, board chair, NEW Center

Eli Segal, Washington, D.C., chair of the board of directors of the Corporation for National Service, chair

Omar Sims, Flint, former program officer, Community Foundation of Greater Flint

Ronald Weiser, Ann Arbor, chairman and CEO, McKinley Associates, co-chair

Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr., Houston, Texas, dean, Rice University Graduate School of Administration; dean emeritus, School of Business Administration; and provost and executive vice president emeritus for academic affairs, co-chair

B. Joseph White of Ann Arbor, dean of the U-M School of Business

Alicia Wilson, Ann Arbor, graduate student and member, Michigan Neighborhood Americorps program

John Tropman, Ann Arbor, professor of social work and of business administration, facilitator