During its Sept. 13 Formal Opening Convocation, Converse College announced the establishment of The Julia Jones Daniels Center for Leadership and Service. The center is a partnership between academic affairs and student affairs that provides Converse students with opportunities to learn, serve, and lead in accordance with the college’s mission to prepare women for lives of service to their community.
Whereas many colleges throughout the U.S. have separate leadership and service programs, the Daniels Center is distinctive in that leadership and service are combined into an integrated approach. Converse’s long legacy of leadership and service coupled with its status as a women’s college position the college to emerge as a leader in developing women who lead and serve.
The Daniels Center will oversee Converse’s existing programs, which include The Bonner Leaders Program, President’s Leadership Program, Converse College Institute for Leadership, Project Serve, Summer Serve, IMPACT Day of Service, and others. It will also assist faculty with integrating service learning into their curriculum by facilitating training and discussion groups and offering site-matching services, regional conference opportunities, a resource library, and individual consultations.
Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that combines meaningful community service with structured opportunities for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge.
“Converse students have long participated in service projects as part of their education, with a number of projects incorporated into academic classes,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barker, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “For example, a computer science class recently designed a new Web site for the SAFE Homes/Rape Crisis Coalition, Converse theatre students often teach classes and direct productions for the Spartanburg Youth Theatre, and an African-American history class contributed a chapter to a Hub City Writers Project book about a local black neighborhood that was largely dispersed by a 1970s urban renewal project. The Daniels Center will help faculty to increase the variety of depth of such projects as service-learning experiences.”
Converse attracts and enrolls high school students who are more active in community service than their peers, according to national survey data. “Women have tremendous opportunity to grow as leaders at Converse, in part because we have 60 student organizations and more than 80 student government elected positions. We also work to create a culture that encourages volunteerism and involvement. Last year, our students worked 5,550 service hours at 60 local agencies,” said Haven Hart, Dean of Students.
Converse is a member of Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents founded in 1985 by the presidents of Brown, Georgetown and Stanford universities and the president of the Education Commission of the States. Campus Compact is a leader in the movement to integrate civic learning into campus and academic life, and is the only national organization dedicated solely to advancing higher education’s civic mission. Member institutions receive training, resources, and advocacy needed to teach students the skills and values of democracy. Converse is also a charter member of an emerging South Carolina Compact.