In the spring semester of 2018, the CCE engaged in a “Semester of Listening” to gather input from around 500 people – including faculty, students, staff, community partners and residents. Underlying this effort to gather extensive input and feedback from communities on and off-campus was a deeper philosophy — the CCE belongs to, and exists to serve, the priorities of the college. With such a role, we felt that our mission and strategic direction should emerge from the college community; in other words, we should be charged with our strategic focuses. Additionally, we sought to embody the principles we espouse and promote — democracy, dialogue and deliberation, and community building and organizing.
We phased our Semester of Listening by block to have intentional conversations that built on one another over time. Beginning in Block 5, we gathered input around the state of community engagement at CC. In Block 6, we gathered input around a vision for community-engaged learning, research, and action at the college. During Block 7, we gathered input on strategies for how the CCE might support that vision. Lastly, in Block 8 we shared what we learned and invited feedback.
The forms of listening and types of outreach we conducted varied to invite input from the stakeholders best equipped to answer the questions of each phase. To understand the current state of community engagement at CC, as well as the roots of that landscape, we conducted focus groups with engaged students, faculty, staff, and current community partners, as well as historical interviews with prior leadership in community engagement at CC. We gathered broad input for our vision, popping in to numerous student group gatherings, almost every academic department meeting, and staff divisional and office meetings. During this phase, we also conducted a survey of community partners and residents and a Facebook poll for students. To develop our strategies moving forward, we conducted Skype sessions with civic engagement offices at peer or exemplar institutions across the nation.
To make meaning and sense of the data, we formed a steering committee of 14 faculty, staff, students, and community organization representatives that analyzed input throughout the semester. The role of the steering committee was to synthesize broad, democratic input into core foundations of our strategic plan, based on the emergent themes and input of communities on and off campus. To enable the committee to have access to this input, we recorded all listening sessions and had them transcribed by a student assistant. We shared written summaries of each session with steering committee members, who then collectively identified patterns and themes. Reflecting these themes, the steering committee worked to re-write the CCE’s mission and vision statements and identified the six aspirations on which our strategic plan is centered.
20 academic departments
67 outreach strategies
Steering Committee Members
Community-Based Organization Representatives
- LouAnn Deklava, Community Engagement-Volunteer Administrator for School District 11
- Deana Hunt, Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Pikes Peak United Way
- Zac Chapman, Executive Director of Colorado Springs Food Rescue
- Kat Miller-Stevens, Assistant Professor of Economics & Business, Faculty Director of Public Interest Fellowship Program
- Carol Neel, Professor of History
- Emilie Gray, Associate Professor, Organismal Biology & Ecology
- Acelynn Perkins, CCE Advisory Board
- Elam Boockvar-Klein, Engaged Scholar
Community Engagement Leadership
- Jordan Travis Radke, CCE Director
- Anthony Siracusa, former CCE Assistant Director
- Aaron Stoller, Director of the First Year Experience Program
- Zak Kroger, Special Projects Coordinator
Community-Facing CC Staff
- Ian Johnson, Director – Office of Sustainability
- Carlos Jimenez, Director of Admission
Summer of Planning
Following our Semester of Listening, CCE staff engaged in a “Summer of Planning” to strategize how to realize this shared vision. Through a series of eight weekly workshops and a full-day retreat, we collectively brainstormed and organized goals, strategies, tactics, and initiatives within each aspirational tenet.
Enormous thanks to our Steering Committee for your work and dedication during the Semester of Listening. Your perspectives and insights were invaluable to this process. A special acknowledgement to Kyana Bell, our Strategic Planning Student Intern. Without her many hours spent eloquently synthesizing input, this process would not have been possible. Interns Sam White and Logan Coleman also played a vital role in transcription.
A huge note of gratitude, as well, to CCE staff. We have poured countless brainstorming sessions, numerous hours, and innumerable amounts of energy and commitment into this plan. This has truly been a shared project, and I could not be more proud of the outcome, or thankful for your contributions.
Thank you to Campus Compact for the valuable resources and feedback you have offered as part of the Civic Action Planning process. And, I owe a big one to all who reviewed this draft — Jake Eichengreen, Maggie Grove, Claire Derry, and CCE staff.
Lastly, thank you to YOU for sharing your visions and ideas with us throughout this process.
Sincerely, Dr. Jordan Travis Radke, CCE Director