For 3rd year, FHSU makes national grouping of Lead Initiative civic engagement institutions

09/25/14
For a third year, Fort Hays State University has been selected as a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Lead Initiative institution for its work over the past year and for its plans for the coming year to create opportunities for students to engage in the civic life of the campus and community.

Promoting civic learning and engagement as a major component of higher education is a key mission of NASPA, the primary association for professionals in student affairs. The association provides programs, services and learning experiences to help its members promote learning and student success in their institutions.

"To be a part of the Lead Initiative," said Brett Bruner, director of persistence and retention at FHSU, "you have to document what you have done this past year and what you plan to do in the coming year to promote civic engagement as a core function of your institution."

FHSU joins about 100 other institutions in the Lead Initiative for 2014-2015.

Bruner said the Division of Student Affairs took recommendations from the university's Civic Learning and Community Engagement Task Force and applied them in its work over the previous year.

The main initiatives undertaken by FHSU:
-- Created a new module on civic engagement for the Freshman Seminar course;
-- Developed a civic engagement curriculum for Tiger[Link];
-- Highlighted "serviceships," an initiative of Vice President for Student Affairs Tisa Mason which provides funding to enable students to give a summer of service; and
-- Institutionalized and expanded on recommendations from the task force and applied them to Student Affairs.

The task force was led by Dr. Curt Brungardt, director of the university's Center for Civic Leadership and Omer G. Voss Distinguished Professor of Leadership Studies, and Dr. Jill Arensdorf, chair of the Department of Leadership Studies.

FHSU has two duties in the coming year as a NASPA Lead Institution:
-- For one week, FHSU will run the Lead Initiative blog, filing updates on what kind of measures FHSU is taking to promote civic engagement.
-- FHSU will conduct an educational workshop sharing FHSU's story at one of the coming year's NASPA conferences.

"One of the new pieces this year is collaboration and idea sharing with other institutions," said Bruner. NASPA groups similar institutions, and over the year a group's members meet quarterly, either in person or electronically, to share ideas about engaging students in the life of their campuses and communities.

"This recognition is of the whole institution," said Bruner. "Many people all across campus contributed to the effort."

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