C.U. Houses NYCC Exec Main Office

March 15, 2002
By Marc Zawel
Sun News Editor

Cornell University will serve as the first headquarters for the executive director of the New York Campus Compact (NYCC), an organization of New York state university presidents and their campuses that seeks to promote civic engagement and community service in local communities.

President Hunter R. Rawlings III was one of the founding members of the NYCC. The organization is now composed of 45-50 presidents of private and public colleges and universities in New York.

Other founding universities include Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Syracuse University, Nassau Community College, Nazareth College, Pace University, Niagara Community College and State University of New York (SUNY) campuses at Cortland, Geneseo and Oswego.

“Cornell’s support of the NYCC by serving as its first ‘home’ illustrates the University’s commitment to promoting civic life and empowering students to become active citizens,” said Susan H. Murphy, vice president for student and academic services in a press release.

“The NYCC provides New York State colleges and universities a public voice for civic engagement,” said Christopher C. Dahl, president of SUNY Geneseo. “It also allows presidents to speak out on the value of civic engagement and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas,” he said.

As part of its mission of promoting civic engagement, the organization is supporting two events this year, according to Leonardo Vargas-Mendez, executive director of the Cornell Public Service Center.

A Summer Institute of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement will be a three-day event held this June to provide a forum for discussion on how universities and faculty can become engaged in helping local communities solve social issues.

The organization also has a three-day student leadership conference summit planned for next fall. Cornell students and students from surrounding colleges and universities plan on discussing the role of students in New York State in furthering democratic renewal.

“In everything from urban planning of Rochester inner-city areas to tutoring to small business development, we want to promote action based research,” Dahl said. “We want students to participate in research because the educational benefits are greater than simple community service,” he added.

The decision to house the new executive director at Cornell for the next three years has a lot to do with the level of civic engagement already taking place at the university, Dahl said. Over two-thirds of Cornell students are involved in service actizvities locally, regionally and globally. More than 10 percent of faculty are involved in service learning and action research to problem solve issues of public concern, according to Vargas-Mendez.

The search for an executive director is, “in its first phase,” according to Dahl who is a member of the 10-member executive committee responsible for overseeing the search for the director. Cornell President Hunter R. Rawlings is also a member of the committee

“We expect someone to be in place by May,” Dahl said. Potential candidates from the nationwide search will be interviewed by telephone this week. After this stage, personal interviews will be conducted with a few final applicants.

“We’re very excited,” Dahl said. “This is an exciting time for New York state schools.”

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