Anthony Mattingly/University Relations

Amanda Schwegler helps take KU's service to the community through her work at the Center for Service Learning.

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Amanda Schwegler, assistant director, Center for Service Learning

Years at current job: 1.5

Job duties: I help create partnerships with faculty and their classes and area nonprofits. The classes take on projects or do service hours that are not only helpful to the nonprofit but also are relevant to the course content. I also support students who are working towards the certification we offer in service learning.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your work? I think people would be surprised at some of the really interesting and successful pairings that occur between classes and nonprofit agencies. For example, a recent sociology class worked with ECKAN, a community action agency serving low-income people, to gather information on where food is—and isn’t—available for residents of Douglas County and what the costs are in different locations. Also, a tax research class interpreted new nonprofit tax code and then presented the information to area agencies so they could better understand and adhere to the new code.

Service learning obviously benefits students, but how does it make a difference for teachers? Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from our service learning faculty, instructors see and hear a difference in the class, from an increase in enthusiasm on the students’ part to an improvement in course evaluations. Just as with students, I think faculty are energized by being able to tie their classroom content to life outside of class. They already understand the importance of their discipline, but being able to show students its application is gratifying. Plus, they have the satisfaction of seeing students put their efforts toward helping the community.

KU has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll four consecutive years. What, in your opinion, is KU doing right in terms of service learning to earn the honor consistently? By creating the Center for Service Learning five years ago, KU provided a support structure for faculty and students who wanted to incorporate service into their academics. For faculty, this can mean an extra hand in finding or creating a service learning project. For students, it means help in locating a volunteer opportunity that relates to their class.

KU wasn’t included on the honor roll just for service learning, though. There are community service efforts going on all across the university that contributed to our designation. KU has put an amazing amount of backing toward community service in general. Service is included in our mission, it’s supported by many groups and offices on both the Lawrence and medical center campuses, and it’s even a big part of Chancellor Gray-Little’s inauguration.

Campus closeup
Amanda Schwegler, assistant director, Center for Service Learning
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