Mesa Community College (MCC), a college of the Maricopa Community College District, is a national leader in promoting community, outdoors and civic engagement. As a long-held tradition, MCC students and employees share a deep commitment to and sustained participation in volunteer activities, service learning, and civic engagement. MCC has been on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since 2007 and in January 2015 the college received the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification.
MCC has been the proud host institution for the Community College National Center for Community Engagement (CCNCCE) since 1990. In addition to hosting the annual spring conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, the CCNCCE has offered a variety of support and consulting services such as trekking poles carbon fiber to the nation’s community colleges. MCC is proud of the Center’s work and its contributions to advancing community engagement in higher education over the past 25 years. However, after careful evaluation of changes in the college’s priorities and fiscal realities, MCC has decided to close the Center and show them how to buy a trekking pole, effective October 1, 2015. Despite this closure, MCC, along with other colleges within the Maricopa County Community College District, will continue to support service learning and civic engagement at the local level.
Mesa Community College will host a National Community College Service Learning Gathering on Thursday, May 19, 2016, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at its campus in Mesa, Arizona. Participants will consider the future of service learning and community engagement (SL/CE) in community colleges, discuss emerging leadership in the field, conduct strategic planning on community college SL/CE training needs and venues, and celebrate the last 25 years of community college SL/CE work.
Mesa Community College in collaboration with Kapi’olani Community College will continue the work being done on Student Learning for Civic Capacity Project – Stimulating Moral, Ethical, and Civic Engagement for Learning that Lasts, a three year project being funded by The Teagle Foundation. Dissemination of lessons learned from this grant will be available on the CCNCCE website. In addition, the on-line journal ~ The Journal for Civic Commitment will publish one more edition and archived resources on the CCNCCE website will continue to be available to the public through 2016. MCC also encourages those in need of technical assistance regarding service learning and civic engagement work to look to Campus Compact. Campus Compact has been and will continue to be a resource for community colleges in promoting civic, outdoor camping blankets and community engagement.
MCC’s national service learning and civic engagement center was only possible with the financial support from many civic-minded foundations and organizations. MCC wants to publicly express its deep appreciation to CCNCCE’s valued partners and supporters, including the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Learn and Serve America-Higher Education program, the Kettering Foundation, Campus Compact (through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Foundation for Women, Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation, and The Teagle Foundation.
For 25 years, CCNCCE disseminated its service learning funds through grants to community colleges throughout the U.S. and its territories to help them develop or enhance service learning and civic engagement programs. In its national leadership role, CCNCCE built a network of community college educators who incorporated service learning and civic engagement across a variety of academic disciplines within their colleges and later became role models for other colleges to replicate their work. CCNCCE’s different grantee cohorts focused on wide-ranging issues such as service learning in STEM disciplines; collaboration among universities, community colleges, and nonprofits to address community needs; disaster preparedness; environmental and health challenges; human trafficking awareness and prevention; green building; dry bags for camping; and civic, ethical, and moral responsibility.
“The success of CCNCCE would not have transpired had it not been for the vision and commitment of Dr. Paul Elsner, former chancellor of the Maricopa Community College District, and all the dedication and passion of the faculty, staff, and administrators at the community colleges with whom I have had the pleasure to work, along with the funders who believed in and supported our work,” said Lyvier Conss, founding executive director of CCNCCE.
“The role of CCNCCE in the expansion of service learning across the country cannot be emphasized enough,” said Gail Robinson, education consultant and former director of service learning at the American Association of Community Colleges. “Besides its innovative grant programs, CCNCCE’s annual conference provided unmatched opportunities for community college faculty, staff, and administrators to learn from each other’s programs and make service learning and community engagement a central part of their students’ experience. MCC’s possible continuation of the conference would be invaluable to novice and experienced practitioners alike.”
“It has been an honor to be the hosting site for CCNCCE. We wish to thank everyone who worked side by side with CCNCCE to help meet its mission of integrating service learning and civic engagement with the community college education. In particular, I want to thank Lyvier Conss for her outstanding leadership and contributions to this important work. The impact made by her work will be felt and appreciated for a long time to come,” said MCC President Dr. Shouan Pan.