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CCE at the CSU - Historic Milestones

Tom Ehrlich appointed CSU Distinguished University Scholar by Chancellor Barry Munitz. Dr. Ehrlich led the effort at expanding service learning throughout the system. Dr. Ehrlich is now a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching where he continues his research and writing about civic and political engagement.

The Community Service Learning Strategic Plan was developed and focused on expanding service learning throughout the system. The plan had two key objectives:

  1. Engage students at each CSU campus in at least one community service-learning experience prior to graduation.
  2. Offer a continuum of community service opportunities at each CSU campus, including a wide variety of community service-learning experiences, as well as extra-curricular and co-curricular community service experiences.

On January 28, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the Cornerstones Report, a systemwide planning framework that articulates the values, priorities and expectations for the future of the CSU. The creation of Cornerstones Report preceded the Strategic Plan for Community Service Learning; however, it was not formally endorsed until 1998. The first principle in the plan explicitly articulates what a graduate of the University is expected to know, including, "the ability to value one's own self and the communities of which one is a part, to make moral and ethical decisions, and to act in a socially responsible manner." This declaration emphasized the need for service learning and civic education as part of students' educational experiences.

In March, the Statewide Academic Senate of the California State University passed a resolution (AS-2488-00), which urged the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to work with the Governor and the Legislature to "provide the CSU local campuses and their faculties with the infrastructure support required to provide opportunities for all CSU students who so desire to engage in a broad spectrum of meaningful service activities within their communities."

Also in March, in parallel to the Academic Senate, the CSU Board of Trustees passed a landmark resolution (.pdf) on community service learning:

RESOLVED, By the Trustees of The California State University, that the chancellor require each CSU president to ensure that all students have opportunities to participate in community service, service learning (deemed academically appropriate by faculty), or both; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Board of Trustees, through the chancellor, endorse campus efforts to make service an expectation, condition, or requirement for the undergraduate education experience; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the chancellor report to the Board of Trustees, on an annual basis, CSU's increasing efforts to provide those opportunities to all students.

Governor Gray Davis authorized $2.2 million to support the development of new service-learning courses and infrastructure across the CSU. Since then, the funding has continued at the annual level of $1.1 million and is focused on infrastructure development.

Through AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, the Office of Community Service Learning at the CSU Chancellor's Office is awarded $2.4 million to coordinate the Service Learning for Family Health AmeriCorps Program. and Institutionalizing Community Service Learning in the CSU (Learn and Serve Grant Program 2000-2003).

Supported by funding from the J. Paul Getty Trust, six CSU campuses (Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona) participated in the Linking Service Learning and the Visual Arts program that greatly expanding programs and opportunities for students in the arts to participate in service learning.

In partnership with national Campus Compact and California Campus Compact, OCSL offers Engaged Department Institutes to 30 academic departments from across the CSU.

The Corporation for National and Community Service/Learn and Serve America program awarded the CSU a $1.2 million grant Realizing the Civic Mission of Education in the CSU, a three-year initiative to support long-term institutionalization of service learning and civic engagement.

In the 2004-2005 academic year, over 15 percent of the CSU student body, more than 65,000 students, had the opportunity to participate in service learning.

A landmark study analyzing the social and economic impact of the California State University on the state of California, the California State University: Working for California, was released. The study finds that "the California State University is a national leader in community service and service learning. The product of individual initiative, campus-based organizations and university policies, these volunteers help strengthen local communities and improve the livability and attractiveness of the state" (CSU Impact: Quality of Life)

12 CSU campuses were recognized for their commitment to public service, including hurricane relief activities, as part of the inaugural President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Five CSU campuses - Chico, Fresno, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, and San Marcos - along with 71 other U.S. colleges and universities received the first-ever elective Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This recognition, from an independent higher education center, affirms the deep investment and continuing excellence CSU campuses have made to their communities.

CCE began building a strong network supporting the development and expansion of community-based research across the state, and in recent years, has partnered with national organizations such as the Council for Undergraduate Research to institutionalize undergraduate research and broaden community-based research opportunities across the CSU.

Service-learning offices at CSU campuses and the Chancellor's office embark on a comprehensive strategic planning initiative. The planning process elicited a fresh opportunity to consider how these offices play a role in advancing the CSU's public service to local communities, California, and beyond.

In collaboration with Stylus Publishing, the CSU launched its first national monograph series on community issues, such as social justice, gender identity, equity, and violence. Sixty-two faculty and five graduate students chronicle their personal experiences in working in partnership with communities.

The Office of Community Service Learning celebrates 10-years of dramatic growth and innovation in the service-learning movement in the California State University.

The Office of Community Service Learning ushers in a new name, the Center for Community Engagement and its 2008-2013 strategic plan.


In response to the national need for more STEM graduates, CCE embarked on a system-wide effort to increase the use of service-learning pedagogy in STEM courses in order to increase student engagement and success, particularly among historically and currently underrepresented low-income, first generation, students of color, and women in STEM careers.



CCE collaborated with CSU Monterey Bay to develop CalState S4, a web-based system for online tracking of student academic placements with community partners.  Currently, 17 CSU campuses and one systemwide program are using S4 for service-learning, internships and social work placements.



In July, the CSU STEM VISTA program funded by CNCS is launched. CSU STEM VISTA members mobilize university and community resources for historically and currently underrepresented students to aspire to, excel in, and complete degrees in STEM



CCE partnered with the W.M. Keck Foundation to embark on the first systemwide national research study to examine what impact STEM service-learning courses have on common measures of student academic achievement, career development and civic engagement. This 2 1/2 year pilot study will inform best practices in service learning across the CSU and build an alumni base for long-term follow-up.



14 CSU campuses (of 361 nationally) have the Community Engagement Classification through 2020: Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Chico, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Monterey Bay, San Bernardino, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Marcos, and Stanislaus.



CCE launches its 2016-17 strategic plan marshaling in a three-year vision with strategic directions and goals aimed at deepening community engagement across the CSU System and supporting student success.

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Last Updated: June 19, 2018