Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Tony Atwater has established the Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership and selected Dr. Caleb Finegan, associate professor of History, as its founding director. Finegan will begin work in this role on July 1.
“Throughout its proud history, IUP has established an impressive record of commitment to community service, stewardship, and civic engagement.” Atwater said.
“IUP students, faculty, and staff maintain significant involvement in community outreach and service learning activities throughout Indiana County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the nation. The Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership (CCESL) represents an institutional vehicle and a resource for student leadership and citizenship today and for generations to come.”
Finegan has served as director of IUP’s Citizenship and Civic Engagement Initiative (CCEI) since 2008. The CCEI was established by Atwater in 2006 to promote volunteer opportunities for students, faculty, and staff.
The primary mission of the new center is to sensitize IUP students to the value of citizenship, leadership, and the broader applications of their university education.
“The CCESL will seek to help students build the skills and gain the experience necessary to assume their rightful roles as active, engaged citizens and leaders who will make their communities and their countries better places in which to live, work, and learn,” Finegan said.
According to Finegan, the center will help students as well as faculty members to explore opportunities for civic engagement and community service within the classroom, around the IUP campus, and in the Indiana and global communities.
Finegan said he is honored to serve as the founding director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership.
“I am confident that IUP can truly become an institution which is regarded regionally and nationally as a leader in social activism and community service. Giving back to the community, helping people in need, and providing students with a broader vision of what matters in life—these are values which I will try to instill as part of the overall IUP experience.”
The center will utilize resources and programs currently affiliated with the American Democracy Project, including activities related to Constitution Day and Service Learning. Finegan also plans to continue some of the initiatives he developed as the director of the CCEI, including IUP Engage, a program designed to heighten student awareness of cultural events taking place on campus and in the community.
The center will offer financial and administrative support for student groups engaged in community service and volunteerism. Finegan also will work through the center to support departmental efforts relating to internships and serve as the central point of contact for handling external requests for student interns.
Other plans for the center include collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data on IUP’s community service and service learning efforts.
“We know that a great deal of volunteerism and service learning is taking place, but before the establishment of this new center, there was no central point of contact to collect and compile this information,” Finegan said. “I look forward to the recognition opportunities, not only for individuals involved in service, but for the university as an important community resource.”
Finegan will serve as a liaison between faculty and the Career Development Center, the Office of Service Learning, and the Center for Student Life to improve the coordination of efforts relating to civic engagement, community service, and service learning. He also will serve as spokesman for the CCESL and its initiatives.
Members of the IUP community offer close to 100,000 hours of community service annually. In recognition of its commitment to community service, IUP was selected for the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to America’s communities.
The honor roll is produced by the Corporation for National Community Service in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.