4/23/2014 7:14:07 PM

An Education of Engagement

Thursday, December 08, 2011

By Eric Guzman '12

For the second year, Siena College’s Office of Academic Community Engagement (ACE) and Siena College Research Institute (SRI) have created the New York Civic Health Index. This year, the report frames civic health against the backdrop of social and political changes in New York within the context of continuing economic hardship.

The Center for the Study of Government and Politics, in conjunction with SRI, hosted a talk and panel titled, “Colleges and the Civic Health of their Communities.” Director of Community Strategies for the National Conference on Citizenship Kristi Tate, explained the role of higher education institutions with civic engagement. “Civic engagement is not only knowing about the three branches of government, but taking that step to be an active participant in the communities in which we work and live,” said Tate.

With respect to how Siena could enhance the civic health of New York State, Fr. Kevin Mullen ’75, O.F.M., Ph.D added, “Living our mission as a College asks us to shape responsible citizens …Through both study and experience, our students see what it means to be a responsible citizen. Their interconnectedness helps to reflect on the different ways they can interact with communities once they graduate.”

Many Siena students are already participating  in volunteer activities and service projects that are motivating them to remain civically engaged.

“As you get more involved and volunteer, you open your eyes to see what you are blessed with and are motivated to help others," said Bonner Service Leader, Nicholas Ramundo ’14.

Damietta Cross-Cultural Center Advocate, Charnelle Francis ’13 contributed, “Seeing the faces of those people I’ve helped has had such a positive impact and inspires me to continue giving back to the community.”

Tate discussed how effective civic and community engagement programs prepare civically healthy graduates who are interested in becoming active citizens. Additionally, Tate said these programs shape student values, lead to higher academic performance and yield better degree completion rates. She stressed the importance of relationships and interconnectedness.

“No one does this alone, all members of the Siena Community are involved. Living our mission is something we do within the classroom and also with an understanding that although Siena has geographic borders, civic engagement does not,” said Chief of Staff Fr. Ken Pauli ’82, O.F.M., Ed.D. “The most persuasive evidence that an educational institution is effective can be found by examining the lives of its graduates. It’s not only about the four years our students are here, but moving out into the world and affecting it for many more.”

The 2011 New York Civic Health Index revealed that through turmoil and change, New York’s civic health has remained steadfast and constant. Siena College’s dedication to educating socially responsible citizens helps contribute to this positive trend.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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