New Center Will Provide Opportunities for Community Engagement, Experiential Learning

Alma College launches Center for College and Community Engagement, geared toward collaborations between students, staff, faculty and community members

Volunteers from Alma College are pictured at a community service project. Volunteers from Alma College are pictured at a community service project.ALMA — Alma College this week announced the launch of its Center for College and Community Engagement (CCCE).

The CCCE will create collaborative opportunities for the college and community to develop strategic partnerships, share knowledge, and serve mid-Michigan together, said Alma College President Dr. Jeff Abernathy. The college is currently conducting a nationwide search for the inaugural director of the center.

“We are excited to announce the launch of the Center for College and Community Engagement, which we expect will assist students in learning the value of civic responsibility, engaging in meaningful service, and discovering their purpose and vocation, in ways they never have before,” Abernathy said. “Alma College is poised to act locally and impact the state, nation, and the world around us. Through this center, we’ll be able to do just that.”

The center’s activities focus on four key areas: engagement, community, sustainability, and purpose. Initiatives and activities that will work through the center include new service and service learning opportunities, faculty and staff engagement and training, interfaith partnerships and curricular programming to promote ethical reflection and engagement.

The Center will also play a pivotal role in organizing and expanding already-existing programs; including Plaid Service summer service, leadership and community organizing course; the Scots in Service living learning community; Alternative Breaks; the Rural Michigan Initiative, and Alma Venture programming.

“The mission of Alma College is to support students as they become leaders who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully, and live responsibly,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathleen Dougherty. “Through the CCCE, students will partner with our local community in positive and intentional ways to illustrate the importance of being citizens of this place and the ability to make a global impact by acting locally. In educating the whole student, the college will support them in the exploration of their impact, purpose, personal and spiritual identity, and vocation.”

Through the center, the college will develop pipelines to internships, civic engagement, student leadership development, and volunteer opportunities for students. It will help facilitate faculty and staff development for experiential and service learning, as well as academic and co-curricular experiences that will enhance students’ community involvement, social capital, civic knowledge, and skill development for respectful and meaningful community engagement.

The launch of the center comes at a time of curricular innovation and physical growth of Alma College. The college just recently launched its first graduate degree; the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, led by director and prolific author Sophfronia Scott. The restored Wright Leppien Opera House Block — a landmark to Alma’s history and a symbol of the town and college working together for community revitalization — was dedicated in October 2019. Construction projects including a complete transformation of the college’s library, as well as a renovation of its chapel, are currently ongoing.

Alma College volunteers are pictured during a community service project. Alma College volunteers are pictured during a community service project.“It’s an exciting time to be at Alma, and witness this investment in our students, our college and our community,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Brown. “The center will help Alma College further entrench itself in the area; while developing better senses of generosity, compassion, collaboration and empathy. It will allow the college to engage thoughtfully with the community to identify ideas and areas of need where we can be truly helpful.”

Alma College is a private, liberal arts college of about 1,450 students, whose mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations. An Alma College education instills a love of learning and celebrates the joy of discovery. Each Alma student experiences a deeply interdisciplinary education that provides opportunity for self-reflection, hands-on learning, and personal and professional development. It will embrace the principle of local, national and global learning communities, build upon strong mentoring relationships, and integrate rapidly changing technology essential for current and future career paths. For more information, visit

Story published on May 25, 2021