The Democracy Commitment and its sister organization AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) honored a team of students and three outstanding leaders in civic engagement earlier this month during their joint national meeting in Louisville, Ky.
The Democracy Commitment awarded it’s inaugural award, The Democracy Commitment Student Action Award to recognize a team of students. Three ADP awards were also presented: The John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement; The William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement; and the inaugural Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement. The Democracy Commitment also awarded it’s inaugural award — an award for a team of students.
At the 2013 national meeting, The Democracy Commitment announced that, starting in 2014, the leadership team would select for special recognition a student-initiated or -directed project or program that exemplified the democratic skills and capacities it desires of community college students. In the spring of 2014, campus coordinators were asked to nominate a team of more than two students from their institution who had initiated a student project or program aimed at addressing a significant political and/or social was/is that involved the use of democratic organizing skills and where faculty and staff served mainly in an advisory or supporting role. The prize would be a perpetual traveling trophy to be hosted at the winning institution for the year it was awarded and $1000 to be split between the team of winning students.
TDC’s inaugural award, The Democracy Commitment Student Action Award, is given to recognize a student-initiated or -directed project or program that exemplifies the democratic skills and capacities of community college students. The first annual The Democracy Commitment Student Action Award was presented to three students from De Anza College (Calif.). Karla Navarro,Cecelia Ng, and Ashley Schneider were nominated by Cynthia Kaufman for their initiation of and work on the 350 De Anza Divestment Project. These students decided that they wanted Foothill De Anza Community College district to divest from fossil fuels. They conducted research, consulted with faculty mentors, and got unanimous resolutions from the student bodies at both campuses in the district. They then took that to the foundation board and worked with the members to pass a unanimous resolution for full divestment. There are active divestment campaigns on a few hundred campuses nationally, but many of them have stalled out. De Anza was only the eight campus to divest, and was the second state institution and the first community college. The movement really needed a victory at that point, and has since picked up steam, with Stanford’s divestment at the end of spring semester.
This year’s recipient of the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement, Bethany Fleck, is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver (Colo). In addition to teaching courses in human development and psychology, Fleck pioneered two service-learning courses within the psychology department and is at the forefront of the movement to institutionalize service-learning at MSU Denver. The award was created in honor of John Saltmarsh, co-director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, as a tribute to his dedication to nurturing the next generation of civic leaders.
Harold Hellenbrand, this year’s recipient of the William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement, has exemplified the values of this award through his work as provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, Northridge. Hellenbrand’s background reflects strengths in planning, K-12 linkages, retention efforts, and a strong commitment to diversity; he has nearly 30 years of experience within the California State University system. The award is named after William M. Plater, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) chief academic officer from 1987 through 2006. During his term at IUPUI, Plater oversaw the development of civic engagement as an integral part of the campus mission and as a defining characteristic of its graduates.
The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement was created this year to honor exemplary faculty leadership in advancing the civic learning and engagement of undergraduate students and advancing the work of AASCU’s American Democracy Project. The inaugural recipient of this award,Gregg Kaufman, is an instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia College, where he also coordinates the campus’ American Democracy Project; he also serves on the national ADP implementation committee. The award’s namesake provided extraordinary national leadership in the design, creation and ongoing development of the American Democracy Project.
“We’re so pleased to honor these outstanding individuals who represent the incredible work of civic learning and engagement taking place on our campuses every day,” says George Mehaffy, AASCU’s vice president for academic leadership and change. “The work of the people we recognized in Louisville, and the countless campus faculty members and administrators who also work to prepare the next generation of informed, engaged citizens, will strengthen our country and contribute to a brighter future for us all.”