A Message from Dean Dave Jones

Dean Dave Jones A little over a year ago, in the winter 20111 issue of The Honor Roll, I reported that the Honors College’s Center for Civic Engagement was well positioned to help recently appointed President John Fry realize his vision of making Drexel University the most civically engaged university in the country. 

Was it ever!

A few months later, Philip Lindy pledged a multimillion-dollar gift to Drexel to endow the Center and President Fry’s Neighborhood Initiatives program. The gift was so generous, and President Fry’s ambitions so grand, that the renamed Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, already twice as large as any other unit in the Honors College, would soon become larger than the rest of the College combined. At the same time, the Center’s enlarged, cross-university mandate would make it necessary for the Center to operate under a broader umbrella than a single Drexel college.

Consequently, the College has ceded administrative responsibility for the Lindy Center to the University as a whole. The Center will now report to the Provost’s Office.

The Lindy Center’s departure leaves us with mixed emotions. We’re proud that the Honors College helped the Center develop to the point where it won Mr. Lindy’s confidence and affection, especially for its management of the Lindy Scholars Program implemented in association with the Goodwin School of Education. In addition, under the College, the Center developed an academic certificate program (something like a minor) in Civic Engagement, and it also initiated a university-wide, one-credit "Introduction to Civic Engagement" course for entering students — probably a first in the United States. The Center won a $1.4-million dollar Learn and Serve America grant from the Corporation for National and Public Service. It launched a High School Mentoring Program, offered mini-grants and workshops to facilitate faculty-led civic projects, and created the Drexel Community Scholars program for Drexel students. In 2008, the Center earned the prestigious Carnegie Classification in Civic Engagement and for the next three years received recognition for its activities by being named to the Corporation for National and Community Service President’s Honor Roll.

As proud as the College is of the Center’s impressive accomplishments, the credit for them belongs mostly to the Center’s visionary Executive Director, Dan Dougherty, his outstanding staff of Jennifer Johnson, Dorinda Wilson, Brianne Tangney, Seth Jacobson, Shayla Amenra, and Tom Dahan, and the hundreds of students who have worked with them on mentored community projects. We are very happy for them for the recognition the Lindy Center has received. We wish them all the best in their new administrative home.

The College will continue to work closely with the Lindy Center on projects of mutual interest. For instance, the College and the Center are spearheading a new series of interdisciplinary civic-engagement three-credit courses focused on developing nearby Lancaster Avenue. This fall, the College and the Center plan to offer a one-credit civic engagement service course in Panama. Also this fall, Dan and I plan to offer a repeat of the popular Honors Colloquium, "The American City in Film," that we taught together in winter 2011. 

We believe engagement with the community is an essential component of a solid, well-rounded undergraduate education. Community engagement is experiential and it is, when the Honors College is involved, reflective. We will encourage our Honors students to take advantage of Honors and Lindy Center joint courses and projects, of which we hope and expect there will be many. We want our students to gain a sophisticated understanding of civic engagement and its role in living a full and responsible life. 

Dave Jones