Civic Engagement and Re-Accreditation

The stairs of our new office home, Albritton.


For the past couple of years, Wesleyan journeyed through a Re-Accreditation process. In my experience, this process has meant that I had to fill out extra paperwork and write several essays on my experiences here, mostly through my major. My professors assured me that although my work would be ungraded, it would indeed be scrutinized by both the administration and a third party.

But it’s not as scary as one would imagine. Re-Accreditation, in an extremely general sense, surveys the general climate of the institution in all of its aspects, parts and whole. If you haven’t read the report, you can access it here, but I wanted to highlight one specific section, entitled “Civic Engagement.” Very appropriate. It’s fantastic to see Wesleyan include our mission in its greater goals.

“The Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) aims to be a one-stop station for anyone interested in establishing collaborative projects between Wesleyan and (greater) Middletown . The CCP – encompassing the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism, Office of Community Relations, the ServiceLearning Center, and the Green Street Arts Center – strives to offer meaningful engagement opportunities to the Wesleyan community . CCP’s collaborative activities include Community and University Services for Education, whose programs include introducing fourth graders in Middletown public schools to Wesleyan’s arts galleries, the annual Art Show exhibiting works of local K-12 public school students, and the High School Humanities Program; the Teen Life Conference with the City of Middletown; the  Middlesex Chamber Career Expo in partnership with Middlesex Schools Consortium; the Middlesex Transition Academy with cooperation from School District 13 (Durham, Middlefield, and Rockfall); the Center for Prison Education; Let’s Get Ready (SAT-prep for students in Meriden and Middletown); the Foreign Language Bank; and the afterschool program at the Green Street Arts Center. Through the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism (OCS), Wesleyan students are able to engage in volunteer and work-study positions, reflection activities, learning opportunities, training, and leadership development . Based on Senior Survey data from the past two years, half of Wesleyan students volunteer at some point during their sojourn here . A total of 550 students engaged in OCS programs each semester during the 2010–2011 academic year (not counting an additional 225 who engaged through the New Student Orientation that year). These programs, organized by 20-plus student coordinators, include tutoring and elderly services, and addresses issues such as hunger/homelessness, AIDS and sexual health awareness, and  environmental concerns . The Service-Learning Center provides support and leadership for faculty involved with community-based learning on campus . Twenty-two service-learning courses, offered in all divisions of the University, were taught in 2010–2011, enrolling 315 students . Nine were new courses, which received ServiceLearning Initiative Grants for 2009–2010 or 2010–2011 . With the creation of the civic engagement certificate, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Wesleyan will continue to offer intentional engagement activities for students, faculty, and staff that will enrich  their Wesleyan experience and add to the quality of life in the greater Middletown community. Town-gown relations are contingent on various factors: the relationship of elected officials to the President and other senior administrators, organizational relationships and collaborations, student volunteerism, and employment opportunities here for Middletown residents . Over the years, Wesleyan has had challenges with the Middletown community, especially around student housing and raucous parties . But for many years now Wesleyan has made conscious efforts to reach out to city officials, neighboring organizations, and residents. The President and Cabinet members meet regularly with the Mayor and city directors . There is also regular communication with other city stakeholders, and the CCP advisory board includes representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, public schools, Middlesex Hospital, and Middletown Police.”