New Office of Civic Engagement will enhance University’s work in local communities

Dean of the College Terry Papillon has announced the creation of an Office of Civic Engagement, formed by combining the offices of Community Engagement and Chapel Outreach. The new office will continue its ongoing relationship with All Saints’ Chapel and will work to develop, support, and create both Chapel and secular civic engagement programs.

At the same time, Papillon announced a gift to the University in support of this reorganization and the development of new civic engagement programs. The gift of $1.12 million, given by an alumna and her parents who wish to remain unnamed, creates the Fund for Civic Engagement.

“We have been considering the range of projects located in the former Outreach Office and Office of Community Engagement for some time. We expect that these activities will continue to grow in their breadth and depth,” said Papillon. “Reorganization of these programs under a single office will allow the University to take greater responsibility for the community impact of its civic engagement projects.”

The expanded civic engagement office and increased funding will permit a greater impact by the office in the community and for Sewanee students. Students can expect to have additional, meaningful experiences of translating theory into practice, and increased understanding of how national and local themes affect people. The University will be able to connect more to its partner communities (local, regional, and international), with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of each.

The new Office of Civic Engagement will include the following staff members: 

  • Jim Peterman, director of the Office of Civic Engagement, responsible as well for Community Engaged Learning, Sewanee’s academic civic engagement program
  • Nicky Hamilton, senior associate director, responsible for the South Cumberland Plateau VISTA and nonprofit capacity building program, both co-sponsored by the South Cumberland Community Fund,  as well as civic engagement program development and assessment
  • Dixon Myers, associate director, responsible for alternative break trips, Chapel-sponsored programs, and a new advising initiative: Student Pathways
  • Robin Hille Michaels, assistant director, responsible for Bonner and Canale service internship programs
  • Michelle Howell, coordinator of student programs, responsible for volunteer opportunities, social justice programming, and support for break trips and service internships

The new Fund for Civic Engagement will be used to offer scholarship support for students and to develop a summer internship program for emerging student service leaders, in addition to supporting other initiatives.