Instant Replay: Campus Programs with Heart

Are you looking for examples of programming with heart? On February 27, Amanda Gabbard from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Kim Piatt from the College at Brockport shared information about their campus programs that benefit the community beyond the campus. If you missed the live program, it has been archived and is available in the On Demand section of the ACUI Library.

The College at Brockport

The College at Brockport is located outside of Rochester, N.Y., and is a public, four-year liberal arts college with 7,150 undergraduate and 1,250 graduate students. Only 38% of students live on campus, yet they participate in more than 120 clubs and organizations, 13 Living Learning Communities, 23 varsity sports, and 120 study abroad programs. They provide 270,000 hours of community service per year.Together We Can

In 2010, the college revamped their leadership program, now called the Leadership Development Program. At the beginning of this process, they decided on several guiding principles, or assumptions, for this endeavor. These include:

  • All students have the capacity to demonstrate leadership.
  • Leadership is a process that leads to social change.
  • Leadership is purposeful and collaborative.
  • Leadership is service and civic engagement.
  • The application of sound leadership principles enables us to leave the world in a better place than when we entered it.
  • Leadership concepts are explored across all academic disciplines and can be learned through curricular and co-curricular experiences.

This program is based on the Social Change Model of Leadership. There are four certificate levels students can achieve, with each representing a different aspect of the Social Change Model. The first level focuses on individual values of consciousness of self, congruence, and commitment. This is called the Green Certificate. The second is called the Gold Certificate and focuses on group values, such as collaboration, common purpose, and controversy with civility. The third is the Presidential Certificate, which deals with societal values and citizenship. The fourth is the Capstone Certificate, which involves a culminating experience focused on change. This final certificate is the most demanding and requires planning a major event and being a mentor to others. Students work toward two certificates at once, except for the Capstone Certificate.

Upper-level students recruit first-year students for the program, starting with orientation. Anyone who wants to can join and there is no application process. Faculty and staff are utilized as volunteers for the program, which helps with recruitment due to everyone on campus knowing about the program. The Student Leadership Conference is the big event for the program and alumni of the program are invited back for the conference.

University of North Carolina–Wilmington

UNC–Wilmington’s Office of Student Leadership and Engagement is in charge of the annual Young at Heart program. The school has approximately 16,000 students, 14,000 of which are undergraduates. The engagement part of "Leadership and Engagement" is devoted to engagement within the community, which can include voter engagement, alternative break trips, a program connecting students with non-profit associations in the community, and the Young at Heart program.

The Young at Heart program is a Valentine’s Day event for the elderly in the community. The program has a 24-year history. A live band called Dusty Long’s Jazz Band provides music for the occasion. This year, the event was held on campus the Tuesday prior to Valentine’s Day and 60 volunteers and 85 guests from the community participated. They discovered Tuesday to be an ideal choice for the event to avoid other obligations guests might have on other nights. Inclusivity is taken into consideration when choosing space, as many guests are in wheelchairs or using walkers. The Senior Singles group in the community advertises the event, and residents at local nursing homes and other facilities are invited. Guests had their own transportation to the event.

 Student volunteers are recruited through the gerontology program on campus, the “Forget Me Not” student organization, the Men’s Soccer Team, and the fraternities and sororities on campus. Volunteers received training before participation that focused on intent vs. impact, general tips for interactions with older adults, tips for communicating with someone with hearing loss, and conversation starters. In addition to directly socializing with guests, volunteers also helped with check-in, welcoming, helping guests get from their van to the building, refreshments, and door prizes.

There were some challenges faced by the program that others might learn from. One challenge is the budget. Money needs to be set aside for the program and schools would need to consider whether they would have a band or a DJ, the cost of refreshments, if door prizes would be given and if so, where they would come from. You would also need to identify some technology staff or volunteers, and then consider how many volunteers are too many volunteers. If you have more volunteers than guests, you could end up with volunteers standing around with nothing to do. Just keep in mind that RSVPs do not always equal attendance, so prepare for more people than the RSVPs. Once a program has been around a while, the balance between tradition and trying new things can be a challenge.

With both programs, the challenges are made worthwhile by the impact of the program. Amanda talked about how much she likes looking through the photos of the Young at Heart event to see all the smiling faces and how happy the guests are during and after the event. For the Leadership Development Program, the students who complete the certificates are proud of their achievements after all the hard work they have done.

Check out the on-demand video for additional details about these programs or contact the presenters for more information.

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