It has been one year as Executive Director of Oregon Campus Compact and it seemed fitting, as any good service-learning professional would, to reflect on what I’ve learned. The first thing I learned is we aren’t just about service-learning here at Campus Compact. In Oregon and at the National office in Boston, Campus Compact is becoming more focused on the question “in service of what?”
My 6 months as Interim Director focused on working with our incredible board (led by Concordia’s President Chuck Schlimpert and joined this year by President Jessica Howard from Oregon’s newest campus- PCC: Southeast) to determine our strategic focus.
That process led us to look at the role colleges and universities, their students, faculty, staff and Presidents can play in achieving Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal to ensure 100% of Oregonians gain a high school diploma or GED, 40% go on to earn an Associates degree, and another 40% go on to earn a Bachelors or higher.
We spend a lot of resources both public, private and personal to ensure students graduate with degree but it is a missed opportunity if all of those students in higher education aren’t also using their education as an opportunity to learn through working with their local communities to solve some of the most pressing problems of our State.
Just think if every single college student got out of their classrooms and engaged with communities to solve problems like the high school drop out rate, racial disparities in educational success, or college access. That would make a huge impact and use our resources more effectively. That is what we call a Higher IMPACT Education!
Over the past year Campus Compact in Oregon and across the nation have become more focused on network-wide our strategic priorities:
- Establish meaningful, reciprocal community partnerships – to support and highlight strong, sustainable, democratic partnerships between higher education and community organizations for positive impact on society
- Improve college access and retention – to demonstrate that civic engagement is a vehicle for positively impacting an individual ability to access and achieve post secondary education
- Enhance college readiness in K to 12 education – to improve and strengthen young people’s ability to have successful college careers
- Better prepare college students for their careers and for society – to educate the next generation of citizens to be active and responsible participants in our democracy
We are launching new programs like the College Access Corps and Connect2Complete to focus on these new goals but we want to go far so we want to go together. How can we support you, our members in achieving these goals? What support or programs would you like to see from the Compact over the next several years? What are we currently doing that appreciate most? I invite and encourage a dialogue so that together we can help achieve a Higher IMPACT Education for all Oregonians!