National Service Learning Coalition Honors JMU's Harris

From: Public Affairs

Rich Harris talks with JMU students about Community Service-Learning opportunities

April 15, 2009

HARRISONBURG Rich Harris, who has directed Community Service-Learning at James Madison University for 13 years, is the recipient of the inaugural Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement from Campus Compact.

Harris will accept the award April 21 at Campus Compact's board meeting at Georgetown University. Campus Compact is a national association of more than 1,100 public and private college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.

In honoring Harris with its first leadership award for a community service-learning professional, Campus Compact is acknowledging his role in developing and sustaining strong campus and community partnerships and fostering a culture of campus engagement. Since joining JMU in 1996 as coordinator of Community Service-Learning, Harris has led the program's development to encourage reciprocal learning partnerships between more than 2,100 JMU students and 75 local agencies and 35 domestic and international agencies to support JMU's mission of preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.

"The program is a wonderful model of collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Academic Affairs in which both students and faculty experience and analyze civic engagement in all of its dimensions," wrote Dr. Douglas T. Brown, JMU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, in his letter supporting Harris' nomination. "By any set of measures, the Service Learning program is, without doubt, the most successful civic engagement activity ever undertaken by James Madison University," he said.

While the core values of service learning are aimed at individuals, JMU as an institution has earned recognition for Community Service-Learning. The university earned a place on the 2008 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement. Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service administer the federal government awards programs. With 44 of its alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers in developing countries, JMU ranks 21st in the nation among large colleges those with more than 15,000 undergraduate students in preparing students for the international service.

Professor R. Ann Myers, head of JMU's Department of Social Work, nominated Harris for the leadership award. Myers and Dr. Cecil D. Bradfield, professor emeritus of sociology, established the foundation for Community Service-Learning at JMU when they began a pilot program in 1986 with six agencies and 75 students participating.

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