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Wittenberg opens center for civic engagement

By Kelly Mori

Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Wittenberg University has used its motto "Having light, we pass it on to others," as its model for robust student community involvement.

The university on Wednesday, Sept. 24 unveiled a way to narrow the focus of students' community service into specific areas it believes can have the greatest impact in the community.

The new Center for Civic and Urban Engagement, will help coordinate faculty and student service projects into four areas of engagement: Renewing the Core and Creek; Strengthening After-School Programs, Preparing for Future Jobs, and Improving Housing Quality.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher joined local dignitaries to help unveil the center during a special ceremony..

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, Wittenberg's professor of religion and director of the urban studies, will serve as the center's faculty director.

Wittenberg is among a minority of liberal arts colleges that are in an urban setting, Copeland said. The program will help set the university apart by highlighting the advantage an urban setting provides for practical applications in majors from the sciences to social services to the arts.

"We want to (promote) being located in the city as an advantage instead of what you work against," Copeland said. "

The University has set aside $400,000 for the first three years of the project, said Stephanie McCuistion, the center's administrative director. That will be added to a $624,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. Of Justice for three years of the after school program.

Wittenberg University is among a handful of schools that require community service to graduate and students have already been involved in many of the target programs, Copeland said.

"Few (liberal arts colleges) are doing these kind of things," Copeland said. "We are really breaking new ground."

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0347 or

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