Voice Magazine / Stories / 2015 Spring / Marisol Morales
Marisol Morales

Marisol Morales

"Our philosophy is rooted in appreciation and respect. We create the best opportunities for relationships this way."

“As it goes but to give, and in service to live…”

These words from our 1921 alma mater manifest our mission and value of service to the community as part of the ethos that makes us the University of La Verne. These words still hold true today as we continue to expand and develop our community engagement efforts to go beyond giving and propel us towards more meaningful engagement.

The Office of Civic and Community Engagement, founded in August 2013, seeks to harness the history of service and engagement that has been the cornerstone of a La Verne education by providing a support unit to assist students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners in connecting around both curricular and co-curricular civic and community engagement efforts.

For students, this means offering academically rigorous service learning courses that integrate academic content with meaningful service and critical reflection. For faculty, this means supporting their interest in developing and teaching community engaged service-learning courses through one-on-one meetings and faculty development workshops. In addition, this also means supporting faculty who are interested in engaged scholarship, community-based participatory research, and assisting departments to be intentional in the way they integrate community engagement into their curriculum.

For community partners, this means including them as co-educators through service learning courses, developing mutually beneficial partnerships, and serving as a point of contact to connect them to students and faculty. In the co-curricular realm, we support student organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities and residence halls that have an interest in community service and engagement with connecting to organizations. We support a Federal Work-Study Community Service program and provide training and development for students. Our role in supporting community engagement is university-wide and includes our regional campuses where the impact of our University’s engagement can then be felt throughout Southern California and reflect the diversity that exists in this region.

The Office of Civic and Community Engagement is a place where interests, values, and mission connect to highlight community and university assets and address challenges. We promote the University’s core value of community and civic engagement through community partnerships. We see our office as a space that promotes experiential learning and theory to practice by connecting and involving our students with community-based service learning opportunities and promoting engaged scholarship for our faculty. We support co-curricular civic and community engagement activities through the Freshman La Verne Experience Community Engagement Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, supporting student clubs and organizations and offering community service employment opportunities.

Our engagement philosophy draws from Asset Based Community Development, giving students, faculty and staff opportunities to address community challenges, while recognizing the gifts, talents, abilities and assets of those communities. This model is important because many participating students are either from these communities or relate to them. The paternalistic model of engagement, the norm for engagement in higher education, tells a story of what is broken, missing and lacking — not what is present, possible, and working. Our philosophy is rooted in appreciation and respect. We create the best opportunities for relationships this way, which is a necessity if we are to build sustainable and transformational partnerships that create the meaningful learning experiences that help us prepare our students to be career and community ready.