Rollins Named a Leader in Civic Learning

A national student engagement group has named Rollins College a lead advisory institution in civic learning and democratic engagement, one of only 30 in the country.

In January, Rollins students participated in an Immersion experience in Gainesville. Here, two students cut lumber to build raised garden beds at Kimball Wiles Elementary School where the produce from the gardens is used in school lunches. (Photo by Scott Cook) In January, Rollins students participated in an Immersion experience in Gainesville. Here, two students cut lumber to build raised garden beds at Kimball Wiles Elementary School where the produce from the gardens is used in school lunches. (Photo by Scott Cook)

Early this month, The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the country’s leading student affairs organization, has named Rollins College one of only 74 members of the National Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, which recognizes and supports a network of colleges and universities with strong commitments to civic learning and democratic engagement.

Last week, NASPA also named Rollins as one of 30 Lead Advisory Institutions. The College will be called upon this academic year to provide student affairs expertise, mentorship, and professional development to other members of the National Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.

Four years ago, NASPA launched what was previously called 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 74 institutions across the country.

“Rollins continues to take a leadership role nationally in civic and community engagement,” says Micki Meyer, Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Community. “The involvement of faculty, students, and staff in putting our mission into action has been recognized by a leading student affairs organization. I applaud the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement for their vision and execution of high-level initiatives that foster a strong connection inside and outside the classroom.”

Rollins offers a wide range of programs that show a strong commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, such as community engagement-designated courses, Immersion: Citizens Take Action, Bonner Leaders, Democracy Project, and SPARC Day of Service, during which all incoming first-year students spend a day volunteering at a variety of Central Florida organizations.

Selected institutions, representing public and private four-year and two-year colleges and universities, have committed to a set of strategies to work in partnership with on- and off-campus constituents to influence students’ ongoing commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, including:

• building clear and tangible civic learning and democratic engagement activities into student affairs division strategic goals and learning outcomes;
• collecting and reporting data on the efficacy of campus efforts using tools that measure gains in civic learning and democratic engagement; and
• creating strategies in collaboration with students that increase civic learning and help solve community problems through collective action.

“The Lead Initiative provides a strategic framework for student affairs professionals to best educate students, campus stakeholders, and community partners about the critical work of civic learning and democratic engagement (CLDE),” says Stephanie Gordon, NASPA vice president for professional development. “This initiative provides a space for NASPA member institutions to explore promising practices, assessment of student learning, and program development to ensure that CLDE work is part of every student’s college experience.”

To learn more about NASPA’s Lead Initiative and see a complete listing of the 74 participating institutions, please visit the NASPA website.