Averett University Hosts “Governor’s Summit on Enhancing Engagement in the Commonwealth” 

Posted on October 7th, 2016 by Travis Dix

First Lady of the Commonwealth, Dorothy McAuliffe.In an effort to continue the conversation about expanding service year opportunities in Virginia, the “Governor’s Summit on Enhancing Engagement in the Commonwealth” is meeting at Averett University today, Friday, Oct. 7. Hosted by Virginia Governor and First Lady McAuliffe and Averett University, the Summit will combine with the annual meeting of the Virginia Engage Network to focus on establishing and growing a myriad of opportunities for college and university students throughout Virginia.

Virginia Engage Network is a collection of 18 universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia that are dedicated to their surrounding communities through many different community partnerships. VA Engage connects these universities’ community engagement offices in order to spread new and beneficial ideas and resources to raise campus-community ties throughout the Commonwealth. Another critical partner in this work is the Service Year Alliance, a bipartisan organization committed to making a year of full-time service — a “service year” — a common expectation and opportunity for young Americans of all backgrounds.

Continuing the conversation from the previous summits, as well as the signing of the Compact on National Service in Richmond – in which Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks, as well as leadership from two other Virginia universities, joined Mrs. McAuliffe for a presentation recognizing the Commonwealth’s and its higher education institutions’ commitment to service years – the Summit will allow university representatives from across Virginia the opportunity to learn about and discuss opportunities for enhancing engagement at their institutions and throughout the Commonwealth.

“We are so honored to host First Lady McAuliffe and this stellar group of our peers in community engagement in higher education,” said Dr. Franks. “Service is woven into the heart of Averett University, from our Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness, to being the first private college in the Commonwealth to sign the Compact on National Service, to our commitment to being an Employer of National Service, and more. We feel tremendous responsibility in positioning our students to be catalysts for positive change within the communities in which they live and work.”

Attendees will learn about opportunities articulated in the Compact on National Service, including creating service year experiences at individual Virginia colleges and universities, and engage with presidents and colleagues from Virginia to discuss best practice related to service year and engagement efforts more generally. Mrs. McAuliffe will swear in the new members of the Dan River Year AmeriCorps, and Dr. Andrew Seligsohn, President of Campus Compact, will deliver the keynote address.

“We are so proud that the Commonwealth of Virginia is a national leader in service, and elated that our institutions of higher education are demonstrating passion, commitment and thought leadership, as we look for ways to further service year opportunities for so many of our young people who are committed to serving others” said Mrs. McAuliffe. “Colleges and universities like Averett and the others joining us at the Summit are modeling the way for experiential learning and community service and engagement at its best.”

Having served as a volunteer over many years in her community, Mrs. McAuliffe recognizes the power of engagement. Under her leadership, Virginia is leading the way to encourage and elevate national service as a pathway for solving challenges in local communities, deepening appreciation for citizenship, and developing valuable workforce training opportunities. Largely as a result of her efforts, Virginia is the first state in the nation to be designated an Employer of National Service, and Averett University has since become one, as well.

The Summit is sponsored by Averett University and the Virginia Department of Social Services, in collaboration with the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism.