Community service programs move to new engagement center – News


The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) serves as a starting point for students, faculty, and staff looking to embed engagement into their lives and curriculum. This summer, several programs that previously resided in the Office of the Dean of Students moved to CESL.

“Almost everything that was in the Dean of Students’ community service area now lives in the center,” said Harriet Steinbach, associate director of service learning at CESL. Programs now at the center include:

  • Days of service. The program coordinates organized volunteering days, such as Trick or Treat for Change, Holiday Helper, September Service Saturdays, MLK Day of Service, and Bring it Back to Normal Day of Service.
  • Alternative breaks. Led by 50 student leaders, Alternative Breaks runs local, national and global service trips to help meet the needs of communities.
  • Normal Meet and Greet, an opportunity for students to interact with members of the Normal council.
  • The annual service plan for the welcome week

“If faculty, staff, or students have questions about volunteering or any kind of community engagement, we’re definitely the place to start,” said Annie Weaver, Student Volunteer Opportunities Coordinator for CESL . Weaver and Steinbach will continue to send notices via listserv with current volunteer and community engagement opportunities.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for CESL

Take part in the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, September 20.

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Steinbach added that several programs will remain under the purview of the Dean of the Student Office, including Camp LEAD, Leaders of Social Change, Leadership and Service Themed Living and Learning Community, Leadershape and ISU Leads. “We worked with the Dean of Students to very intentionally bring programs to the center,” said Steinbach, “but we’re not the only area on campus doing civic engagement. A big part of our role is to support and connect any other department or faculty member to engagement. “

The combined efforts with other programs and areas will be key to the success of the center, said interim director of CESL Jan Paterson. “The purpose of creating a Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning is to bring coordination and a common goal to the many civic engagement efforts already underway across the University as well as to create new opportunities, ”Paterson said. “The scope of the center is wide and involves supporting classroom and non-classroom learning experiences in partnership with the community. “

Paterson added that the center will continue its collaboration with the Civic Engagement and Responsibility Minor, and will work closely with programs and areas such as the Office of Sustainability, the American Democracy Project and the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology. .

The center, which falls under the two divisions of academic and student affairs, came into being after a call to action made by President Larry Dietz in his State of the University address in 2014. A group of work met in early 2015 to research best practices and make recommendations. In July 2015, the working group suggested the creation of a civic engagement center.

“This was a total internal reallocation of resources and services, and a mutual decision with the dean of the student office,” Paterson said. “The goal of the center is to develop in members of the campus community, primarily students, an appreciation, understanding and application of the principles of civic engagement as defined by Illinois State University.”

For more information or to join the mailing list, contact the center at (309) 438-1100 or email

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