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Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014

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Community House, SVC join Pace Center; civic engagement at Princeton to be strengthened

As part of a continuing effort to make Princeton a "center of excellence" for civic engagement and community service initiatives, two programs have joined the Pace Center.

Community House and the Student Volunteers Council, which were part of other departments within the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, joined the Pace Center on July 1. The center serves as a central resource for civic engagement and educational outreach opportunities at the University.

"My desire is to develop a national model that empowers students and others to be active, informed and committed leaders," said Janet Dickerson, vice president for campus life. "I envision a center that will foster a culture of service that supports innovation, deep understanding, collaboration, evaluation, purposeful action, and significant and sustained impact."

Putting the programs under one organizational structure will be one step in "creating the conditions that will yield a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts," she added.

Plans call for continuing to build upon and develop the programs of Community House and the SVC and increasing their collaborations with other University-affiliated and student-generated programs, according to Kiki Jamieson, director of the Pace Center.

In 1969 Community House was founded by undergraduate students to provide educational outreach intended to mitigate some of the disadvantages that low-income minority students face in Princeton, enriching both those individual students and the broader society that will benefit when they are able to achieve their true potential. It has been part of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

The Student Volunteers Council came into existence as a student organization, affiliated with the Office of Religious Life, in 1967. It is guided by a student board of directors and the students who organize and participate in its many weekly direct service projects, service break trips, pre-orientation Community Action program and summer service opportunities. It is the largest student organization at the University.

The administrators leading the two programs, Marjorie Young at Community House and David Brown at the SVC, will continue in their positions and will report to Jamieson. The programs will remain in their current locations, Community House in the Fields Center and the SVC in Murray-Dodge Hall.

Jamieson said that students, alumni, faculty and staff participated in the discussions surrounding the reorganization and will continue to take an active role in determining future direction for the programs.

"There is genuine, deep and widespread excitement about the new possibilities this organization enables," she said. "It will help us support more students in better ways as they work to solve public problems. It will help support a culture of collaboration, student leadership and social entrepreneurial spirit. And it will help our community partners have more transparent ways of working with us at the University."

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