Top of the Class

A national student engagement group has named Rollins a Lead Consulting Institution, one of just eight in the country.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook) The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the country’s leading student affairs organization, has named Rollins College one of just eight Lead Consulting Institutions in the United States, an honor given to colleges and universities that excel at encouraging students to turn classroom knowledge into healthy democratic and civic participation.

Two years ago, NASPA launched the Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, a project designed to foster campus atmospheres in which students were educated with an eye toward active participation in democracy and civic society. The organization asked all of its member institutions to apply. Rollins, which has long focused on this very goal, was one of 25 selected Lead Institutions. This year, NASPA expanded this initiative to 73 institutions across the country.

But the organization also selected eight top performers to serve as “leaders among leaders,” says Micki Meyer, director of community engagement. “Rollins College encourages policies, practices, and experiences to help students get involved in applying what they know to the real world.”

“Through the Lead Initiative, NASPA is shining light on the unique contributions that student affairs professionals are making to democratic engagement,” said NASPA president Kevin Kruger in a press release announcing the program’s expansion. “In a time of civic concern and worry about our civic society, it is critical that college administrators are doing all they can to present students with opportunities to help them develop as productive and engaged citizens.”

To offer just one example of Rollins’ commitment to civic engagement, the College has institutionalized voter registration as part of its check-in process. As soon as students received their new address, the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) was there to get them set up to vote—and for students already registered, OCE could help them navigate such issues as where to vote (i.e., from their parents’ address or their new address). After just the first day, 10 percent of incoming students were registered.

“I am deeply inspired by the work of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners,” says Mamta Motwani Accapadi, Rollins’ vice president of student affairs. “This recent recognition as a NASPA Lead Consultant Institution is an acknowledgment of Rollins College as a campus that champions civic engagement by embedding it in ethos of our institution. Rollins is a national leader in advancing civic learning and democratic engagement, and encouraging our students to be thoughtful citizens in the communities where they live and serve.”