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KU names new director, additional leadership for Center for Service Learning

Monday, October 07, 2019

Associate Professor Jomella Watson-Thompson will be the next director of the Center for Service Learning at KU.LAWRENCE — Undergraduate Studies at the University of Kanas has named Jomella Watson-Thompson, associate professor of applied behavioral science, as director of the Center for Service Learning (CSL).

Watson-Thompson comes into the role with deep experience in both community-engaged scholarship and service learning. In addition to her faculty role, she is associate director for the Center for Community Health & Development at KU. Watson-Thompson has extensive history with the CSL, having served as a senior faculty associate, faculty fellow and faculty ambassador. Watson-Thompson has received local, regional and national awards related to her contributions to support community-engaged scholarship and service learning. She has numerous publications in the area of community engagement and extensive experience providing training, consultation and evaluation for community-based initiatives. Watson-Thompson researches and promotes collaboration, including through community-academic partnerships, as an approach to foster sustainable change and improvement in communities. Her research uses a participatory approach to address community health and development issues such as adolescent substance abuse and community and youth violence prevention.

In addition to Watson-Thompson, Emily Rountree joined the CSL in October 2018 as the associate director for Community-Engaged Learning. Rountree, who has a doctorate in human dimensions of natural resources, will lead faculty development and community partner engagement for CSL. She’s received several major grants to develop service-learning projects that address sea-level rise, climate change and conservation. She also recently published an edited volume titled “Reconceptualizing Faculty Development in Service-Learning/Community Engagement: Exploring Intersections, Frameworks, and Models of Practice.”

“I am thrilled to have Drs. Watson-Thompson and Rountree leading the Center for Service Learning,” said Susan Klusmeier, interim vice provost for undergraduate studies. “They possess an abundance of expertise and experience in community-engaged scholarship and service learning that have already strengthened the center’s initiatives and partnerships, as evident through our expanded engagement with organizations like Campus Compact. I believe that the passion and dedication they bring to their roles will ultimately benefit our students, faculty, staff, and community partners.”

CSL is one of four undergraduate studies units dedicated to expanding the university’s career and experiential learning initiatives under the leadership of David Gaston, assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies.

“The Center for Service Learning is well-respected and recognized as leaders in advancing service learning as a high-impact practice,” Gaston said. “In fact, KU was selected to host the prestigious meeting, The Research University Civic Engagement Network (TRUCEN), in February 2020. People from across the country will gather at KU to brainstorm and develop innovative approaches to civic engagement and engaged scholarship.”

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