As noted last week, community engagement is happening across the UM campus. Our office is building on a strong legacy of community engaged work, and we are seeking to elevate this current work, celebrate the accomplishments of our on campus and off campus partners, and develop the infrastructure needed to sustain the work of community engagement at UM for the long haul.
This week, we will share our areas of focus for the coming year – focus areas derived from the self-study process undertaken by our on campus partners as part of the application process for the Carnegie designation.
One of these priority areas for the coming year is developing a comprehensive volunteer center at UM that provides routine and accessible volunteer opportunities for our students. Faculty and staff will also have the opportunity to find opportunities to engage in the Lafayette-Oxford-University (LOU) community through the volunteer center. As we shared last week, the OCE has been working hard to cultivate strong relationships with community partners in LOU, and we are currently developing the infrastructure to launch the volunteer center in the Fall of 2020. This will likely include offering many remote volunteer opportunities given the current social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Where possible, we will facilitate in person opportunities while following the federal guidance that allows both our campus and community to remain safe.
We are exploring the use of a software solution called GivePulse to make it easy for on and off campus partners to post volunteer opportunities. GivePulse will also allow our students to easily locate and sign up for these opportunities.
Many campuses across the nation have established successful volunteer centers, including Mississippi State University’s Maroon Volunteer Center. The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a great model of how to use GivePulse to make off campus volunteer opportunities easily accessible to the university community.
We will also launch a program in the Fall called Mississippi Engaged Scholars for students who are interested in volunteering throughout their time as a student at UM. Students commit to a a set number of hours each year, participate in learning opportunities and skill trainings, attend an orientation and retreat, and become eligible to graduate with the distinction of Mississippi Engaged Scholar. If you are interested in this program, please send us an email at email@example.com.
Throughout the rest of this week, we will provide some additional updates about our plans for the coming year – so stay tuned to this space for updates!