Lane Perry, director of Western Carolina University’s Center for Service Learning, has been named the 2015 Civic Engagement “Emerging Leader” Professional of the Year by North Carolina Campus Compact.
The award recognizes one staff person in the state for efforts to institutionalize a campuswide vision of service, support the engagement of faculty and students, and form innovative campus-community partnerships. The “emerging leader” designation honors a staff member with less than five years of professional work in the field.
Perry was presented the honor Wednesday, Feb. 18, at Campus Compact’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference at Elon University. The compact is a coalition of 33 public and private colleges and universities that build the capacity of higher education institutions to produce civically engaged graduates and strengthen communities.
Since becoming director of service learning at WCU in 2012, Perry has fostered new collaborations to create and expand programs that link student learning and community service, compact officials said in announcing the honor. Perry spearheaded creation of the Provost’s Advisory Board for Community Engagement and saw the number of service-learning courses grow from 14 documented classes in 2010 to more than 50 course sections today.
Perry was part of a four-person team that submitted a successful application to renew WCU’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, and he also has strengthened ties with Coulter Faculty Commons, the university’s faculty development office, and has served as a facilitator at both the new faculty orientation and the summer teaching and learning institute.
In 2013, Perry received a matched grant valued at $18,000 from the Association of American Colleges & Universities to develop the Ripple Effect Learning Community, an interdisciplinary program that has served 42 first-year WCU students over the past two years. Perry also supported a partnership between a WCU entrepreneurship professor and Habitat for Humanity. That connection led to new Habitat projects in Jackson County, a campus Habitat chapter, and a new business plan for a local Habitat ReStore.
After he was notified that he would be receiving the award, Perry said any achievements listed in the award nomination were made possible by “the focus on collaboration across many offices, players and champions” at WCU.
“WCU and its faculty, staff, students and leaders is a place that has provided me the optimal amount of direction, flexibility and leeway to make new and innovative initiatives come to life,” Perry said. “WCU is a place that starts with ‘yes.’ WCU is such a fertile ground for all the high-impact practices to thrive, and I am lucky to be involved in one – service- and community-based learning. What an honor to represent WCU and the Center for Service Learning!
“For me, the only thing better than watching someone grow is helping them grow, and higher education affords me the space, resources and experiences that I personally need to heed my calling,” he said.
Before coming to WCU, Perry lived for four years in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he completed his doctoral degree in higher education and served on the faculty at the University of Canterbury. In 2013, he was elected to the board of the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Community Engagement.
For more information about service learning at WCU, go to servicelearning.wcu.edu.