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Campus leaders honored for civic engagement, partnerships

By Kari VanDerVeen
June 18, 2010

Assistant Professor of History Eric Fure-Slocum

A faculty member who routinely integrates civic engagement projects into his courses. A student who has worked tirelessly to bring education and opportunity to a remote village in Nepal. A local nonprofit organization that enables students to serve low-income residents.

Each has made significant contributions to the St. Olaf community — and for that, Assistant Professor of History Eric Fure-Slocum '79, Subhash Ghimire '10, and the Northfield Community Action Center were honored recently with Minnesota Campus Compact Presidents' Awards.

The awards invite presidents of member colleges to publicly recognize effective leaders in three categories: students or student organizations, community partners, and faculty or staff "stewards" of civic engagement.

Fure-Slocum, recipient of the Civic Engagement Steward Award, has developed and integrated a variety of civic engagement projects into American Conversations. He also developed and taught Ideals to Action: Cultivating Social Change, a course that encourages students to develop social change project plans for community-based organizations. Fure-Slocum has also served as the faculty supervisor for nine students completing academic internships with nonprofit organizations and is a mentor to colleagues who seek to initiate meaningful civic engagement.

Subhash Ghimire '10

Ghimire earned the Student Leadership Award for his commitment to civic responsibility and leadership in his two homes: Northfield, Minnesota, and Arupokhari, Nepal. He used a Davis Projects for Peace grant to establish a six-week summer camp in Nepal for children affected by the country's civil war and rigid caste system. In addition, he created a scholarship fund for the children, established a library in Arupokhari, and launched the Sarswati Foundation. He's currently overseeing the construction of a peace school in the village and is working to establish a Teach for Nepal program similar to Teach for America. On top of that, this spring he organized a "St. Olaf response" to the earthquake in Haiti that raised more than $2,000.

Jim Blaha

The Community Action Center of Northfield, a nonprofit that serves low-income residents, received the Community Partner Award. The center enables dozens of St. Olaf students each year to enact social change as volunteers with its programs. The organization's executive director, Jim Blaha, regularly speaks to students in classes or other venues, and the center supports student learning by supervising students completing practicums, senior projects, and academic internships.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or gonnermd@stolaf.edu.