SRU Professional Development Day to explore community engagement


Camp Rock members at Storm Harbor

Slippery Rock University partners with community organizations, like the Butler YMCA to host programs like Camp ROCK for people on the autism spectrum. The focus of SRU’s annual Professional Development Day, Oct. 9, is on ways SRU faculty and staff can continue to enhance the University’s community engagement initiatives.

Sept. 27, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Community engagement is essential for public institutions like Slippery Rock University fulfill their mission to serve the greater good. That's why SRU's annual Professional Development Day will include conversations about ways faculty and staff can better serve the community through research, course design and partnerships.

SRU's Professional Development Day is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 9 at the Smith Student Center Ballroom.

This year's keynote speaker is Dwight Giles, professor emeritus of leadership in education at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, whose presentation is titled "Exploring the Promise of an Engaged Campus: Intersections, Identity and Impact."

"Dr. Giles is one the pioneers of the service-learning movement in higher education," said Jeffrey Rathlef, SRU director of community-engaged learning. "He's shaped the way schools approach community engagement and he continues to be a thought-leader."

Giles has co-authored numerous books and articles on service-learning research and community engagement and has helped develop online resource modules about service-learning. A founding member of the National Peer Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement, Giles served three years on the Civic Engagement Advisory Board at Bristol Community College, helping build and facilitate BCC's service-learning faculty training for civic engagement.

"An engaged campus signifies the alignment with community engagement, an institutional identity and its commitments and practices," said Rathlef, whose office supports students and faculty with their service-learning programs and courses, connecting them with community partners. "For an institution to have a deep impact, you need to bridge theory and practice and have reciprocity from stakeholders working in a collaborative way."

In addition to Giles' keynote address, Professional Development Day will include a two-hour "World Café," which is a structured conversation in which groups discuss a topic or answer a question at several tables, with individuals switching tables periodically and getting introduced to the previous discussion at their new table by a table host. One such question will be "How would our community be transformed if SRU enhanced its community engagement?" According to Rathlef, this year's event will be the first Professional Development Day to include community partners as participants.

The day will also include three concurrent sessions in which attendees can choose from nine presentations, as well as a panel discussion with members of SRU's Carnegie Elective Community Engagement Classification Committee. The CECECC stewards an institutional self-study process and documentation preparation for SRU's 2019 application to the Carnegie Foundation to be classified as a community-engaged campus in 2020.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to register through CORE, SRU's online platform, by clicking here. The deadline to register is 4 p.m., Oct. 4. For more information, contact the Office of Community and Engaged Learning at 724.738.4764.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |