Teaching by doing
Award recipients embrace
community building


Whether the community is as small as a classroom or office, or as big as the world, the 2001 Distinguished Faculty and Service Award recipients are striving to make their communities better places. The JMU Alumni Association honored Carmenza Kline and Rich Harris for their commitment to community service learning.

Spanish professor Carmenza Kline's re-search into contemporary Latin American literature and commitment to teaching Spanish culture has brought her recognition on three continents and earned her the Distinguished Faculty Award. Kline regularly arranges faculty exchanges and campus visits from internationally known authors and artists. She has also directed JMU's semester abroad program at the University of Salamanca since establishing it in 1987.

Robert Goebel, head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, says "Carmenza's crowning achievement is the Semester in Salamanca. The program offers the priceless experience of truly practicing the Spanish language while learning the culture. Dr. Kline has significantly increased the number and quality of our majors and minors in the department."

Bethany Oberst, director of international programs, adds, "It is difficult to describe the amount of intellectual energy and sheer determination that it takes to design, implement and maintain a Studies Abroad program that runs all three academic terms. The University of Salamanca is one of the oldest and most distinguished institutions in all of Europe, and the faculty and staff there respect Carmenza."

Kline is currently working on a program that will give students the opportunity to engage in community service learning, using their language skills to work with the
Spanish-speaking populations of the Harrisonburg area. "This move to link language and culture studies with service learning is at the forefront of international higher education," says Oberst.

Kline has published two books in Spanish and published numerous articles on world literature in both Spanish and English. She has served on numerous faculty committees including the Visiting Scholars Committee, the Honor Council and the Latin American Studies Committee. She has also served as a visiting professor at universities in Colombia, Spain and Mexico.

Rich Harris ('77), who directs JMU's Center for Service-Learning, traveled to Dominica last summer with 10 other alumni in the university's first international alumni service trip. The trip was recognized by the national Alternative Spring Break program, and Harris has been honored with JMU's 2001 Distinguished Service Award.

JMU's Alternative Spring Break coordinator Morgana Wallace says, "Rich's life is a testament to and a commitment to service in the local, national and inter-national communities."

As director of the CS-L, Harris helps students form partnerships through service-learning placements in Harrisonburg and in national and international communities. Student service experiences have included second-language tutoring, alternative spring break trips, and work with Special Olympics, aging and health programs. "Rich creates a working environment that encourages innovation to better both the students and members of the community," explains Wallace.

And Harris lives the vision that he teaches. He volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and for Men Who Cook, a festival that raises money for an enrichment program for African-American youth. He has served on the board of the Lynchburg Peace Education Center, Camp Kum-Ba-Yah and the Virginia Council on Outdoor Adventure Education. He has counseled youth in the Virginia Department of Corrections and served numerous other civic organizations.

Tim Miller ('96), last year's CS-L graduate assistant, says, "The true testament to Rich is his legacy. If you look at all of the students and assistants who have been through the center, you will see an amazing trend of continued community service at all levels. Rich has created an environment where all members of a university community can come together to change the world one person at a time."


Michelle Hite ('88)

Publisher: Montpelier Magazine For Information Contact: montpelier@jmu.edu