Dear Bucknellians,

More than 30 years ago, a small group of visionary academic leaders began what is now known as Campus Compact, a national organization of nearly 1,100 higher education institutions dedicated to advancing campus-based civic engagement. This group has, with great success, inspired and guided efforts that support community-based teaching and research and develop students' capacity for active citizenship and democratic participation. 

At a time when challenges confronting our society and the planet have grown, so too must our focus on preparing our students to address such issues. The current climate on college campuses and in the public sphere requires us as a forward-thinking university to reaffirm the public purposes of higher education and to cultivate and model the skills, knowledge and motivation to solve societal problems and to prepare students for informed citizenship.

I'm therefore pleased to announce that I have joined with the presidents and chancellors of more than 450 colleges and universities to sign the Campus Compact 30th Anniversary Action Statement. This important document identifies a set of ideals necessary for colleges to cultivate socially responsible citizens and to promote a just, equitable and sustainable future. Just as Bucknell's mission statement indicates that we "seek to educate our students to serve the common good and to promote justice in ways sensitive to the moral and ethical dimensions of life," the Campus Compact statement can inform our efforts to empower and prepare our students through civically-engaged practices in and out of the classroom. Given Bucknell's prominent role in the Susquehanna Valley, we can, should and will consider ways to contribute to our local communities through research, teaching, service and partnerships, while being conscientious stewards of our resources and strengths.

Through the work of many faculty and staff colleagues, we are supporting our students' interest and commitment to civic engagement, but I know that we can, collectively, do more. In this regard, my visits to the Muncy women's prison with colleagues Kim Daubman and Coralynn Davis and their classes, the work of the Lewisburg Community Garden, the recent Coal Collections series, and other such community-facing programs have shown me first-hand the broad impact that we can have as an institution with service- and community-based learning. I'm proud of our students who singularly and as groups have played such a crucial role in the success of these vibrant programs, just as I am of my colleagues who provide the inspiration and perspiration to build and sustain them.

By signing the statement, I am signaling publicly our alignment with the aspirations of Campus Compact and a commitment to examine and enhance our current civic engagement practices. I believe this step will help us exchange resources, models and methods with other schools across the nation. I am excited for Bucknell to be part of this larger initiative and I have asked Provost Barbara Altmann to convene a task force to develop a civic action plan for Bucknell within the next year. Faculty from each college and representatives from Student Life will be asked to serve, and this group is expected to consult with a variety of constituents. As I announced recently via email, we are entering discussions of strategic planning for the University, and the task force on civic engagement should contribute to that that larger initiative. 

Should you have questions or suggestions for this group as it considers past progress and a path to more fully integrate civic engagement across campus, you may contact Director of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning Janice Butler, or Professor Coralynn Davis, the newly appointed Faculty Director for Academic Civic Engagement. This latter position has been instituted, following an external review of our programs, to organize and implement efforts to integrate civic engagement across the curriculum and seek ways to ensure institutional recognition of faculty who undertake service-learning, community-based research and public scholarship, as well as co-lead the strategic planning process for civic engagement in the coming year.

I am excited about this new collaborative effort and look forward to the recommendations that will help Bucknell extend and declare its civic mission.