The College of New Jersey was one of just six institutions of higher education from across the country to be recognized for exceptional commitment to civic engagement and service learning by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC). The 2010 Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards were presented at TWC’s annual Academic Award Luncheon in Washington, DC, at the National Press Club on October 4. The six honorees were chosen from among 120 nominees.
TCNJ and its Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement were recognized for the work of the Bonner Community Scholars Corps (BCSC), an intentionally diverse four-year student leadership program. Through this initiative, 70 scholarship students form 12 issue-based teams at the start of each academic year and work with non-profit partners to identify and address the unmet needs of the community. In collaboration with TCNJ faculty and staff, these teams also mobilize their peers to make a difference—including all 1,400 first-year students as part of the First Year Community Engaged Learning graduation requirement. Recent programs include the creation a youth development conference with students from 10 different academic classes, building a community garden on campus to provide vegetables to a local soup kitchen, helping to establish a campus-wide effort to support recovery efforts in Haiti, starting a prisoner magazine to develop the writing skills of inmates, and delivering writing/reflection workshops to juvenile offenders.
As a result of the efforts of the Bonners and the students they mobilize, local organizations working on some of society’s most intractable problems—such as hunger, homelessness, and recidivism—receive approximately 30,000 hours worth of additional energy and skills each year.
At the October event, Richard Wood, dean emeritus from the Yale Divinity School and Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Center, presented TCNJ’s award to Carol Bresnahan, provost/executive vice president. Patrick Donohue, director of the Bonner Center, as well as Bonner staff and alumni were also on hand for the event.
“The College of New Jersey is a true role model for civic engagement in the academic community,” said Mike Smith, president of TWC. “The [College] is teaching students a quality that can’t be learned in the classroom alone, the importance of getting involved, giving back and making a difference.”