On April 16, the CCE Director Search Committee announced that Garrett Singer will serve as the next director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) starting on May 24. Singer is currently the service coordinator for the Ingram Scholars Program at Vanderbilt University.
According to Singer, the Ingram Scholars Program works toward helping undergraduate students prepare to participate in community engagement opportunities “through community-based learning opportunities.” Singer’s staff biography on the Ingram Scholars webpage states that he is currently working toward an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and will be graduating this spring.
Singer further explained that he was drawn to Lawrence because of the university’s and the CCE’s explicit goal of addressing systemic inequity, something that Singer is “honored to be a part of.” He believes that his time as the service coordinator for the Ingram Scholars Program enhanced his beliefs and philosophies of service and community engagement in higher education.
Singer articulated three main goals for his time as the director of the CCE: to continue to work with partners in the Appleton community to create a method for detailed feedback, to create opportunities for students to have “service learning” experiences and to grow the CCE both on campus and in the community.
As the Dean of the Career Center, Mike O’Connor oversaw the search process. He said that to prepare for this search process, he looked at other high-impact liberal arts schools. Specifically, he examined the staffing, programming and community service of these various institutions. Additionally, he met with a friend at Grinnell University to discuss how their program operated. After receiving feedback on what to look for in a candidate, the application was ready to be posted.
According to Interim Director of the CCE and Assistant Director in the Career Center, Teri Mueller, the CCE Director search committee started searching for a new CCE director early in Winter Term. The search committee was comprised of student, faculty and staff representatives. As the committee met and reviewed applications, they reduced the applicants and began interviewing candidates via Zoom. Finalist candidates met with groups of campus partners, CCE student staff members and community partners, such as the Appleton Area School District and Brewster Village.
To find the best fit for Lawrence, the committee framed interviews around the qualities they wanted in a candidate and how they wanted the office to move forward, O’Connor said. According to O’Connor, the committee was focused on finding a candidate who reinforces the strengths of the current model and of student leaders, who better connects the CCE with complementary areas of the university and the community and who brings light to the importance of the CCE to Lawrence and the community with a focus on historically marginalized communities. He said that Singer’s references were outstanding and set him apart from other candidates.
Mueller explained that the committee was looking for someone who would be compatible with the current CCE and would be able to help grow the CCE. She said that the CCE director’s responsibilities include serving as the “main point of contact for the CCE, supervising the student-run office, and communicating with multiple stakeholders.” Because of this, it was essential to pick a director that demonstrated versatility, said Mueller. Mueller stated that Singer demonstrated versatility in his experience with the Ingram Scholars program at Vanderbilt by working with multiple community partners to help develop opportunities for students.
Senior and Resource and Outreach Manager in the CCE, Papo Morales, a member of the search committee, thought it was important to find a director who will “shake the box” and help advance the CCE. Singer was the perfect fit. According to Morales, Singer stood out because of his ambition, as evidenced by his higher education background. Additionally, Morales said that Singer was very attentive and proved to be a strong listener throughout the interview process.
O’Connor said that the director transition process will comprise orientations, training in a variety of subjects such as computer systems, introductions to student groups and a variety of students, faculty and staff that he will be working with. Throughout the summer, Singer will also be introduced to a variety of community organizations to give him a feel for the Appleton community, O’Connor said