Bates creates center for community partnerships

To assure that the valuable relationships forged between Bates College and the community endure and grow, a new Center for Community Partnerships has been created, Bates President Donald W. Harward announced Friday, Nov 2.

“The Center for Community Partnerships will ensure a sustainable link of the College’s academic mission to its commitment to service, and to mutually valuable partnerships with the community beyond the College — partnerships that bring benefits and support that otherwise would not be possible,” Harward said in remarks at a breakfast seminar of business, civic and health-care leaders from the Lewiston-Auburn community. “Our engagements with the community outside of the College have been true partnerships. They serve mutual, yet independent, interests that honor the integrity of both partners.”

The Center for Community Partnerships will consolidate existing and new programs, current and future collaborations, personnel and resources:

* The Center will enhance Bates’ focus on and support to service-learning. Service-learning at Bates goes beyond traditional volunteerism by incorporating community service into academic course work. Since 1995, more than half of the Bates student body has engaged in service-learning projects, while more than a third of the faculty has included a service component in their courses. In the last academic year, September 2000 to May 2001, Bates students participated in 53,547 hours of service in the local community. Bates enjoys national recognition, having successfully integrated academic excellence, with a model service-learning program involving nearly 150 community agencies and institutions.

* The Center will provide an ongoing institutional structure and resource for collaborations with the community, including LA Excels. A community-based strategic alliance founded in 1998, LA Excels is composed of colleges, schools, hospitals, municipal governments, arts organizations and businesses that work together to create a shared vision of excellence in community development. After two conventions involving more than 1,000 local citizens, LA Excels decided to champion plans that no single entity could accomplish, including: bringing Lewiston and Auburn together to develop a performing arts center, a community arts learning center, and a museum devoted to the area’s industrial and social heritage. It also supports an LA conference center, neighborhood housing improvements, green corridors and bicycle pathways linking the two cities, and projects to increase educational aspirations of local schoolchildren. In its second year, the Civic Institute is offering leadership training for area citizens and middle-school personnel. The Institute is supported by grants from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds.

* The Center will align and support research projects by students and faculty that have application in the community — research that brings external support that otherwise would not occur. Examples include a student who developed a Geographical Information System for Lewiston and Auburn and saved the municipalities nearly $200,000 in labor and consultants’ fees. Another gave 34 students from Lewiston’s Longley Elementary School a chance to conduct hands-on science experiments with four Bates professors. Significant grant support from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provide resources that enable these College and community collaborations.To reinforce its grounding in the academic life of the College, the director of the Center will work with the new President and under the direction of Dr. Jill Reich, Vice President for Academic Affairs and the lead academic officer of the College.

The Bates College Board of Trustees voted to create the Center and authorized a search for its first director at its meeting Oct. 27. The work of the Center will be supported by a new Board of Trustees Committee, confirming the centrality of its work to the mission of the College.

During Board discussion, Board Chairperson Burton Harris, among others, noted the importance of a lasting partnership between campus and community. “The fences, physical and metaphorical, have come down,” Harris said. “The College and its partner, the community, now have a direct, a sustainable, and a mutually-reinforcing relationship.

“The establishment of this Center, one of the most significant steps taken by the College, will assure the Lewiston-Auburn community that, as partners now and in the future, both the College and the community can reinforce their strengths, their mutually beneficial interactions and their missions of excellence.”

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