Rollins Wins 3 Florida Campus Compact Awards

For the 10th straight year, the College has been recognized for advancing high-impact, transformational engagement practices that benefit students and communities.

Rollins College recently won three awards from Florida Campus Compact, a group of more than 50 college and university presidents that promotes service learning and engaged scholarship.

The College won the Campus-Community Partnership Award for its partnership with Opportunity, Community, Ability (OCA), an Orlando nonprofit that serves students with autism and special needs. Political science professor Don Davison won the Graham-Frey Award, and Marissa Corrente, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE), won the Community Engagement Educator of the Year Award.  

This is the 10th consecutive year Rollins has won awards from Florida Campus Compact. Recipients were honored November 17 at the organization’s annual gala in Tampa.

“These awards acknowledge the work that’s been done for years among some incredible institutions across the state of Florida,” says Meredith Hein, CLCE director. “We’re creating collective impact, and Rollins is seen as one of the institutions paving the way for best practices. Civic and community engagement are absolutely engrained in the mission of who we are as an institution.”

Campus-Community Partnership Award

What started in 2011 with a SPARC Day service event has morphed into one of the College’s most active community partnerships.

For the past five years, Rollins students have been a mainstay at OCA, a nonprofit that helps children and adults with autism and other disabilities engage with their peers. Since 2013, Rollins’ Bonner Leaders Program alone has volunteered more than 1,000 hours.

At the heart of this effort is the CLCE, which facilitates numerous opportunities for service at OCA. Camps, after-school programming, adult vocational learning, athletics, bowl-a-thons, and academic/community engagement courses are among the many ways Rollins students can interact.

Silvia A. Haas, OCA’s executive director, says friends from the College are constantly on campus, providing fun, age-appropriate activities that enhance verbal and social skills.

“A great example of this,” Haas says, “is an art club that was started by a Bonner Leader, Meredith Ewen ’19. She provided kids and adults with special needs different ways to be able to express themselves, not only in verbal form, but in written form and through art.”

Meredith Ewen ’19 is making art a sensory experience for students with autism and special needs. (Photo by Scott Cook) Meredith Ewen ’19 is making art a sensory experience for students with autism and special needs. (Photo by Scott Cook)

This year, OCA gave Rollins its Eagle Soar Award, presented to an individual or business that truly believes OCA’s Mighty Eagles can soar.

“It’s been a tremendously strong, mutually beneficial partnership,” says Hein, who sits on OCA’s foundation board. “We’re setting the tone for our students to gain an understanding that, while a tremendous amount of learning happens in the classroom, a great deal also collectively occurs in the co-curricular form.”

Graham-Frey Civic Award

Recognized for his “outstanding contributions to the development of civic learning and engagement in sustaining our participatory democracy,” political science professor Don Davison is motivated by two goals: develop critical thinking and cultivate responsibility to participate in the democratic process.

“Politics is toxic today, and democratic institutions are quite fragile,” he says. “It’s important for our students to seek out ways to find solutions to some of these problems. My courses address topics which can make students uncomfortable: institutionalized racism, voter eligibility, structural injustice, and the disappearing American dream. However, high-impact practices that enable students to control some of their learning environment can open these contentious but critical political topics to reasoned and respectful exploration.”

Outside of class, two of Davison’s more notable projects are the annual Improving Democracy conference and the monthly Politics on Tap series. Improving Democracy affords students an opportunity to present their scholarly research, and Politics on Tap usually draws a few dozen students and faculty to Dave’s Boathouse for political discussions modeled on the Cambridge Socratic method.

In their project The Comparative Effects of Electoral Laws on Political Participation, Professor of Political Science Don Davison (left) and Margaret Lewicki ’16 (right) try to find out what factors influence voter turnout in elections. (Photo by Scott Cook) In their project The Comparative Effects of Electoral Laws on Political Participation, Professor of Political Science Don Davison (left) and Margaret Lewicki ’16 (right) try to find out what factors influence voter turnout in elections. (Photo by Scott Cook)

“The expectation is that we can engage in civil discourse to find out more factual information about controversial issues,” says Davison, who moderates discussions on everything from race to the election. “Having a common base of information helps establish a more productive conversation.”

Davison’s collaborative research projects include partnering with Amir Sadeh ’13 to study demographic change and minority voting rights and working with Margaret Lewicki ’16 to examine the effect of electoral laws on voter behavior. Currently on sabbatical, Davison is researching the Latino vote and perception of minority voting rights in the United States.

Community Engagement Educator of the Year Award

Since joining Rollins in 2012, Marissa Corrente has been developing innovative ways for students to put their passion into action.

Recognized for “inspiring a vision for service on the campus and supporting faculty, students, and campus-community partnerships,” Corrente is making significant contributions to the institutionalization of community engagement. 

Marissa Corrente (center) and students visit HopeCommUnity Center to practice testing water in Lake Apopka before heading to the Dominican Republic. (Photo by Scott Cook) Marissa Corrente (center) and students visit HopeCommUnity Center to practice testing water in Lake Apopka before heading to the Dominican Republic. (Photo by Scott Cook)

As associate director of the CLCE, Corrente heads the Bonner Leaders Program; supports the Democracy Project; leads the Community Vision Group; partners with faculty to develop service-learning curriculum; co-teaches courses alongside faculty; and establishes partnerships with dozens of organizations throughout Central Florida. In addition, she founded the SummerSERVE and Engaged Faculty Emeriti programs and has participated in several Immersion trips.

“Working toward a more inclusive, socially just world where we’re teaching others to be empathetic, active citizens—that’s what drives me,” Corrente says. “Rollins really supports innovative approaches that allow me to develop sustainable programs in which students can learn, grow, serve, and lead.”