CSUSB named a leading institution in civic engagement


Cal State San Bernardino is taking its place as a leading institution in a national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement.

naspa_logoThe university has been named one of only 50 institutions in the nation as a Civic Learning Leadership Institution by NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the leading voice for the student affairs profession.

“Civic engagement is more than just voting in elections,” said Diane Podolske, CSUSB director of Community-University Partnerships. “Our goal is to provide students with educational and hands-on opportunities to engage them in how our democracy works and the role of citizens in a community. The timing is critical. By providing these experiences during our students’ university experience, we will be preparing and inspiring the next generation of community leaders.”

As a participating institution in NASPA’s initiative, Cal State San Bernardino will continue to develop partnerships to increase each student’s commitment to being engaged and active citizens, serving their communities and undertaking leadership roles both on and off campus.

“CSUSB’s selection for NASPA’s civic engagement initiative will allow us to learn from and contribute to the national dialogue,” Podolske said.

The 50 institutions are identified regionally; Cal State San Bernardino is the only campus from the California State University system and is grouped with Chapman University, Mount St. Mary’s College, Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego.

“NASPA has long been committed to ensuring that a college education embeds in students a commitment to civic engagement and citizenship,” said Kevin Kruger, president at NASPA.  “Through the Lead Initiative, NASPA will highlight the unique contributions that student affairs professionals are making to democratic engagement and will develop tools for sharing the important lessons that will surely emerge from the work of these institutions.”

Selected institutions, representing public and private four-year and two-year colleges and universities, have committed to a series of strategies to work in partnership with on- and off-campus constituents to influence students’ ongoing commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, including:

  • Building clear and tangible civic learning and democratic engagement activities into student affairs division strategic goals and learning outcomes;
  • Collecting and reporting data on the efficacy of campus efforts using tools that measure gains in civic learning and democratic engagement; and
  • Creating strategies in collaboration with students that increase civic learning and help solve community problems through collective action.

Earlier this fall, Cal State San Bernardino was named one of five universities and colleges from across the country to receive the prestigious Washington Center Higher Education Civic Engagement Award for the strong commitment of its students, faculty and staff on their leadership, innovation and support of community programs and projects.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll has included Cal State San Bernardino on its national list in each of the past six years, and the university also was recognized with the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement.

In 2011-2012, Cal State San Bernardino offered 139 service learning course sections, taught by 55 faculty members, with nearly 2,000 service learning students addressing community needs. Through their more than 60,000 hours of volunteer service, CSUSB students contributed over $1.3 million to local communities.

This year the university has initiated the “Stand Up for San Bernardino” program to assist the city of San Bernardino, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection. By fostering existing relationships and building new partnerships with city offices, local nonprofits and schools, the university program will identify needs that can be addressed with CSUSB resources.

A mini-grant process has been established to assist the development of San Bernardino-focused student organization and Greek Chapter civic engagement projects, and to encourage faculty to create service-learning projects that benefit San Bernardino and its residents. In addition, the university has prioritized service-learning internship placements that could benefit the city.

In all, the university shares more than 500 partnerships with area nonprofits, school districts and government organizations.

To learn more about NASPA’s Lead Initiative and view a complete listing of participating institutions, please visit the NASPA website.

Visit the Cal State San Bernardino Community-University Partnerships website, or contact Diane Podolske at (909) 537-7483, for more information on its work and service learning.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.