Announcing the Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement (CILCE) and its director, Meghan Allen Eliason
The University of St. Thomas has appointed a director of the new Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement (CILCE, pronounced "sill see"). Meghan Allen Eliason began her duties in July. She comes to us from Northeastern University in Boston where she directed scholarship programs for underrepresented students, including students from the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Housing Authority.
Eliason was the first director of the innovative Torch Scholars Program, which uses nontraditional methods to select and support low-income and first-generation college scholarship recipients. Prior to her work at Northeastern, she held positions the College of St. Catherine and the Minnesota Private College Council. She has a B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Although this position reports to the associate vice president for academic affairs, an advisory group of representatives from the university's three divisions will advise on strategic planning and goal setting. In addition, a matrix of staff and faculty members from across campus will meet regularly to create greater collaboration and communication around the university’s outreach efforts. The director's major responsibility will be overall planning, organizing and directing of the operation of CILCE to facilitate and coordinate community outreach and intercultural learning activities.
CILCE will focus on supporting current UST initiatives, as well as on developing and implementing communitywide strategies to enhance and extend intercultural learning and community engagement activities on and off campus. Some existing UST programs and initiatives have become direct CILCE partners, such as Service-Learning, Tutor/Mentor Program and Reading Buddies Program. Kate Caffrey, who previously coordinated Reading Buddies, has been named director of the Tutor/Mentor Program in addition to her work with Reading Buddies. The Service-Learning Office and its program manager, Barb Baker, have moved to the CILCE offices to provide and facilitate greater integration between outreach efforts and academic classroom learning. CILCE also welcomes a new administrative assistant, Katie Ngumba, to help coordinate communication and collaboration efforts among the staff and related departments. Other related programs and departments, many of which comprised the former Center for Community Partnerships, will work closely with CILCE as members of its matrix: VISION, VIA, Business 200, and Admissions and Financial Aid.
In 2006, St. Thomas submitted an application to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for designation as a "community-engaged institution." The application highlighted the extent and diversity of St. Thomas' outreach and community-based activities. St. Thomas was designated as a university with "substantial commitments in curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships." The designation served to further stimulate a number of ongoing discussions on how best to maximize community-based activities to meet the needs of the university and the community. Reports from the Task Force on Global Education and Strategic Undergraduate Enrollment Initiatives proposed a coordinated effort to expand services to the community. The establishment of CILCE is the result.
The creation of the center and the directorship position are evidence of UST's commitment to preparing its students, faculty and staff for the increasingly global and diverse communities in which we live. Thank you to everyone who has been involved with the creation of CILCE, and for welcoming and supporting its staff and their work. We hope CILCE eventually will touch all offices or departments on campus, as the success of these efforts depends on developing effective outreach and communication strategies to increase access to the university, deepen the university's visibility among underrepresented groups and forge and maintain relationships with community groups and agencies.
Please check the CILCE Web site regularly for information or upcoming events, call the office at (651) 962-6800 for more information, or visit Room 153 and 159, Murray-Herrick Campus Center.