OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University has created a new position, director of the Office of Community-Based and Experiential Learning, to encourage community-based service learning in its courses.
"Service learning is something we must do, and it’s the right thing to do," said Jim Hutchins, associate provost at WSU. "With this new position we have the necessary administrative structure in place to facilitate service learning at Weber State and its surrounding communities."
Hutchins pointed out that WSU faculty members have been meeting for several years to discuss service-learning strategies and have been active in statewide organizations such as Utah Campus Compact. "Until now, however, we haven’t had a single person who coordinates the academic elements," he said.
According to Hutchins, service learning benefits both the community and the university. "Students' retention of course content and development of necessary career skills increase," he said. "The community also benefits from greater support of service and volunteer activities."
Brenda Marsteller Kowalewski, a sociology professor at WSU since 1995, has been selected to serve as the first director of the Office of Community-Based and Experiential Learning. She is in the midst of a 20-year community-based project that includes 20 student researchers each semester, and she was recently elected a councilor for the national Council on Undergraduate Research.
"I hope to help community organizations access the incredible wealth of knowledge and resources the university has to offer through community-based learning techniques such as service learning and community-based research," Kowalewski said. "Partnerships between students, faculty members and community organizations should benefit all involved parties. It is my job to help facilitate such partnerships."
Jim Hutchins, associate provost
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Brenda Marsteller Kowalewski, director of the Office of Community-Based and Experiential Learning
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