New Council on Community Engagement helps DePaul coordinate work as civic partner

Tony Scott
June 10, 2016

A newly approved Council on Community Engagement will help DePaul to better coordinate its work across the university as a civic partner in the Chicago area. 

Helen Damon-Moore, associate director of the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning, says the university's Faculty Council approved the formation of the Council on Community Engagement in May. She explains the new council will, among other things, coordinate activities in order to increase their impact.

"For example, if the Steans Center knows what the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Department is doing and University Ministry knows as well, we can be more effective as we work with the community," she says.

The Steans Center announced the council's formation at its annual Service Speaks event on May 13. Members will be appointed soon.

"We will be working with Faculty Council to appoint interested faculty members, and we will also be recruiting interested staff, students and community partner members," Damon-Moore says. "The council has been approved and we're at the implementation stage now."

According to the proposal presented to Faculty Council, future projects of the Council on Community Engagement could include:

  • Benchmark and align DePaul's community engagement practices and structures with those recommended by the Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification, where possible
  • Share community engagement information and practices with university departments or groups in order to coordinate, improve, and sustain DePaul's community engagement efforts
  • Consider strategic priorities for DePaul's community engagement as a Council; advocate for them across the university
  • Serve as a central repository for community engagement data, overseeing the all-campus database and sharing meaningful data and information with relevant institutional leaders and partners
  • Coordinate reporting and assessment of DePaul's community engagement to on- and off-campus entities
  • Share information and proactive communication with Public Relations and Communications, Enrollment Management and Marketing, Alumni Relations and Advancement in order to highlight DePaul's community engagement as an institutional strength
  • Facilitate a council listserv to communicate service and service learning activities and publicize related activities, such as Steans/Teaching Commons' workshops and University Ministry Service Days
  • Nominate and recognize outstanding community-engaged faculty annually at the Service Speaks conference.
  • Explore ways to further promote the scholarship of community engagement for faculty, students and community partners

Mark Laboe, associate vice president for University Ministry, says the idea of a Council on Community Engagement grew out of a grassroots coalition of faculty and staff called DePaul ENGAGE. The university formed this initial group in support of DePaul's strategic plan to develop students who are socially responsible leaders. 

"The idea behind DePaul ENGAGE was a coalition of people who were working on some ways to help the institution do that better - to be socially responsible and civically engaged people," he says.

Steans Center Executive Director Howard Rosing says the council also grew out of DePaul's successful efforts to receive the Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification, both in 2006 and 2015.

"We have matured to a level of community engagement where there needs to be a comprehensive understanding of what we're doing across the institution," Rosing says. "If we are better able to coordinate with one another, we will have a greater impact on our students and on our community."

Laboe says the Council on Community Engagement will help DePaul be more effective in its community service work.

"As an institution we're going to look at how many students are out there working, and how many hours they're putting in," he says. "But this council is really about whether we're effective at what we do and whether our community partners think what we do is helpful and meaningful."