Gearan Brings Together Leaders from Higher Ed for Civic Learning Campaign – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Gearan Brings Together Leaders from Higher Ed for Civic Learning Campaign

Hobart and William Smith Colleges president is hosting a national meeting of leaders in higher education.

Carmel Valley, Calif. — Campus Compact Board Chairman Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., and former director of Peace Corps, is hosting more than 100 college and university presidents, chancellors, trustees and legislators from across the country this week at the Carmel Valley Ranch. The event, titled “The Campaign for Civic Learning in College,” will be co-hosted with Peter Smith, president of the California State University, Monterey Bay and a former legislator from Vermont.

Gearan was named chairman of Campus Compact in the Spring of 2003. This is his first meeting as chairman. He will be addressing the group on the exchange of strategies and ideas surrounding civic engagement on campus and is conducting a panel along with Carol Schnieder, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, titled “Toppling the Ivory Tower,” which unveils a national strategy that unifies the civic and public work of higher education associations and individual campuses.

Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta; Congressman Doug Hart (R-MI); John Laird, Democratic member of the California State Assembly; and others will address the need to strengthen the citizenship skills and practices of college students, such as voting, civic dialogue and community service.

Higher education's top leaders will ask representatives of the two presidential candidates what each candidate would do to support the civic mission of education. Dr. Eugene Hickok, deputy secretary of education in the Bush administration, and Robert Shireman, author and adviser to the Kerry / Edwards campaign, will present statements from the candidates.

The Campaign for Civic Learning in College is a collaborative initiative by a powerful set of groups including: The New York Times, Campus Compact, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, The Center for Liberal Education & Civic Engagement, The American Democracy Project, Jumpstart, Project Pericles, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and California State University.

“The Campaign for Civic Learning in College will address the crisis of growing disenchantment with politics among college students,” Gearan said. “If students do not learn in college how to constructively participate in their communities, both the quality of life and the future of our democracy is at stake. Studies show that 36 percent of college students participate in volunteerism, but it is also important that they exercise their right to vote. This issue is particularly timely as there is a major effort occurring now on campuses nationwide to register college students and get out the vote.

“Higher education is uniquely positioned to lead a national effort to inspire and educate a new generation of community, national and international leaders. Just as every sector of American society will benefit from improving the civic competencies of students, every sector must contribute to make it happen. How that message is communicated, both within and beyond the academy, will be a major focus of the campaign and a topic for discussion at the colloquium.”

Founded in 1985, Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 900 college and university presidents committed to civic engagement among college students. Campus Compact's national office, based in Providence, R.I., and 30 state offices, promote service initiatives that develop student's citizenship skills, help campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provide resources and practical guidance for faculty seeking to integrate civic engagement into their teaching and research.

For more information on Campus Compact and the Presidents' Leadership Colloquium, visit