Kernodle Center name change highlights renewed mission

The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement has been renamed the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, as a part of a renewed vision and mission outlined in the organization’s newest strategic plan.

The Kernodle Center has served as the university’s home for service-learning and community engagement opportunities for more than two decades, but as the center continues to broaden the scope of its work, it will do so under a new name.

The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement will now be known as the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. The name change comes as a part of the Kernodle Center’s new, seven-year strategic plan, which includes a renewed vision, mission and values for the center in its third decade of operation.

The Kernodle Center’s mission is to inspire, educate and prepare students and the campus to partner with diverse communities to address local and global challenges, and gain a deeper understanding of their responsibility to actively contribute to civic life. The center serves as the convener of community-based engaged and experiential student learning opportunities in collaboration with faculty, staff, and community partners to address the common good. The Kernodle Center’s efforts have helped the university once again earn a #2 ranking for service learning in the most recent U.S. News & World Report national rankings.

Kernodle Center leaders felt the “Service Learning and Community Engagement” title had become too narrow and no longer accurately depicted the full picture of the center’s work on and off campus.

Student volunteers from the Kernodle Center participate in an event for a local Special Olympics chapter.

“We were looking for more inclusive language to capture our work with communities that focuses on their most pressing issues and, ultimately, helping to build stronger communities,” said Mary Morrison, assistant dean of campus life and Kernodle Center director. “Here in Alamance County, that includes a focus on economic development, health and education that were identified by our community in the most recent Alamance County Community Assessment.”

Over the years, the Kernodle Center’s focus has expanded beyond service-learning opportunities for students. It now involves all facets of civic responsibility, including civic engagement, community engagement, service-learning, social innovation, community-based research and community-based participatory research. Through a variety of opportunities, the center aims to help students identify as engaged citizens and scholars who partner with communities around the globe and contribute to democracy while promoting equity and inclusion.

President Connie Ledoux Book participates in a Habitat for Humanity women’s build organized by the Kernodle Center.

The Kernodle Center’s new name not only highlights a broader focus for the center, but also the university’s commitment to making a positive impact in Alamance County and communities around the world.

“The civic life piece is the work of the entire university – faculty, staff, students, alumni – it’s not just the work of the Kernodle Center, it’s all of our work,” Morrison said. “And the goal is to inspire and prepare active citizens. Whether it’s in Alamance County while students are here or wherever they find themselves after graduation, we want students to have the knowledge and tools to be engaged citizens and scholars in whatever communities they reside.”

Learn more about the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, its history and its mission here.