The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the country’s leading student affairs organization, has selected Colby-Sawyer College as one of less than 100 institutions nationwide to participate in the 2016-2017 NASPA Lead Initiative, which recognizes the college’s dedication to promoting civic learning and democratic engagement.

Selection to this cohort was based on Colby-Sawyer’s Office of Student Development’s democratic engagement programming, such as brown bag lunch discussions, diversity dialogues and alternative spring break service trips.

“It is with the dedication of the Colby-Sawyer administration and faculty that they are able to provide a robust space for the campus community to further their civic ethos,” said NASPA’s Assistant Director for Knowledge Communities and Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Initiatives Stephanie Reynolds.

The Lead Initiative offers selected institutions unique professional development opportunities and targeted resources, such as access to webinars and conferences. In return, Colby-Sawyer is required to track engagement and contribute to NASPA’s blog with post on strategic planning.

“With the initiative’s guidance, we will better engage students and assess our efforts for effectiveness, which will improve our programs overall,” said Interim Vice President Davis.

Colby-Sawyer’s enduring collaborations with the Town of New London also distinguished the college. The Office of Student Development invites Town Administrator Kimberly Hallquist to participate in Student Government and Class Board inductions, and Keeper of the Checklist Celeste Cook frequently visits campus to register student voters.

As a participating institution in the Lead Initiative, Colby-Sawyer has committed to maintaining its leadership among American universities in encouraging students’ civic development.

“This initiative will help emphasize and advertise the good work we already do while encouraging us to broaden our offerings,” said Interim Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Robin Davis.

The Lead Initiative’s focus on local civic engagement has inspired the Office of Student Development to work even more closely with the college’s Community Service Club. In the past, the club has spent spring breaks rebuilding houses and infrastructure in cities that include Miami and Coney Island, N.Y. Interim Vice President Davis is working to offer a second, more local service trip.

Interim Vice President Davis also plans to partner with the Student Government Association to identify more opportunities for programming. In addition to the college’ annual Constitution Day held in September, Citizenship Education and Student Government co-hosted a discussion led by Associate Professor of Social Sciences and Education Eric Boyer on the Second Amendment. Professor Boyer will also give a presentation on this year’s presidential election during Homecoming Weekend in October.