Richard Harris of James Madison University Garners Campus Compact’s First National Award for Community Engagement

January 23, 2009

— Campus Compact has selected Richard Harris, Director of Community Service-Learning at James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia, as the recipient of the inaugural 2008 Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement. This national award is presented to a community service-learning professional for exemplary leadership in developing and sustaining strong campus and community partnerships and fostering a culture of campus engagement.

Harris has directed the Community Service-Learning office since 1996, expanding JMU’s role as a partner in the community and developing numerous programs designed to assist communities in need while helping students gain the knowledge and experience required to address social issues. Under Harris’s leadership, JMU has earned the reputation of being a national model of campus engagement, with a strong focus on forming community partnerships that benefit all involved.

Douglas T. Brown, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice-President of Academic Affairs at JMU, says of Harris, “Rich’s work in developing service-learning at James Madison, in my view, has been one of the cornerstones of our educational experience.” Harris’s deep commitment to his students, his campus, and his community has led both students and community partners to cite Harris as a source of inspiration and lasting influence. Upon reflecting on his experience at JMU, a former student said he considers Harris “a teacher, mentor, philosopher, activist, dreamer, and… friend.”

JMU has achieved numerous distinctions for its community work, such as ranking 14th in the nation in 2008 among large colleges and universities for graduates currently serving as volunteers with the Peace Corps; earning a place on the 2007 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement; and being selected for inclusion in Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement (The Princeton Review and Campus Compact, 2005).

In addition to Harris, Campus Compact honors five award finalists for their outstanding contributions to campus and community engagement: David Chiles of Cabrini College (PA); Patti Clayton of North Carolina State University; Cheri Doane of Central College (IA); Lorraine McIlrath of the National University of Ireland, Galway; and Thomas Schnaubelt of the University of Wisconsin – Parkside.

About the Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement

This award recognizes the work of a community engagement professional who advances his or her campus’s civic vision and the field by creating and coordinating high-quality engagement initiatives, contributing significantly to the development and sustainability of strong, reciprocal partnerships between higher education and communities, and fostering a deep culture of engagement on campus. In this, its first year, the award drew an impressive group of nominees from campuses across the United States and abroad, representing a wide range of institutional types.

Campus Compact created the Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement to honor the work of campus staff members whose job focuses on building structures and programs to connect students with their communities through service and other forms of civic engagement. Nearly all Campus Compact member colleges and universities have such staff members, reflecting a strong commitment on the part of higher education to contribute to the public good. This award joins Campus Compact’s national awards for students and faculty members who work to deepen this commitment.

About Campus Compact

Campus Compact is a coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents — representing some 6 million students — who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. As the only national association dedicated solely to this mission, Campus Compact is a leader in building civic engagement into campus and academic life. Through its national office and network of 34 state offices, members receive the training, resources, and advocacy they need to build strong surrounding communities and teach students the skills and values of democracy.

Members of Campus Compact include public, private, two- and four-year institutions across the spectrum of higher education. These institutions put into practice the ideal of civic engagement by sharing knowledge and resources with their communities, creating local development initiatives, and supporting service and service-learning efforts in areas such as literacy, health care, hunger, homelessness, and the environment.

Campus Compact comprises a national office based in Boston and state offices in CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NH, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, and WV. For contact and other information, see

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