Professor Jim Peterman is the recipient of a 2015 Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award. The awards are presented by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to recognize demonstrated effectiveness in public service. Only five students and five faculty or staff members are honored statewide each year.
Peterman, professor of philosophy and director of community engagement at Sewanee, was nominated for his work to transform communities on the South Cumberland Plateau, building partnerships with community leaders, launching new service programs for students, pioneering the use of course-based community engagement, and creating new connections with the Corporation for National and Community Service through a VISTA program on campus. The program Peterman created now works with 24 community partners and has placed students in 41 projects.
In helping transform our community, Peterman also transformed his career. As a professor, he determined that teaching philosophy must be connected to the real problems faced by people in our communities. In his longstanding commitment to community engagement, he advocated for and eventually created the Office of Community Engagement, of which he is now the director. He was recently recognized by the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace for his extraordinary community service.
In his letter nominating Peterman, Vice-Chancellor John McCardell said, “Jim Peterman has redefined what a philosophy professor can achieve by creating strong partnerships, seeking out new opportunities for service, and learning from everyone he meets. His work is intensely practical, and he brings to it an ability to overcome obstacles through cheerful tenacity. I believe that he amply represents the values that are raised up through this award.”
“I am deeply appreciative of my colleagues as well as our community partners who nominated me for the Harold Love award,” said Peterman. “Without them and many others, including the Bonner and Canale service interns and our VISTA volunteers, I would not be doing what I do. Community engagement, like many other things, takes a village. This award is a recognition of all of our work.”
Peterman will be honored at a reception in Nashville next week. The award requires demonstrated public service beyond the scope of a nominee’s regular job, and evidence of the success of his or her service. It was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1991.