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Our History

The Center for Service Learning at the University of Kansas opened in 2005 and represents the culmination of decades of work by students, faculty, and administrators.

Since its founding, KU has been consistently aware of its leadership role in preparing generations of students to meet the demands of informed, democratic citizenship. One of the ways the University accomplishes this goal is through its commitment to, and promotion of, community service and “service learning” coursework that integrates service and learning. Through the combined efforts of engaged students, faculty, and staff, KU has been and continues to be, actively involved in serving the local community, the State of Kansas, the nation, and the world.

The movement toward institutional support for service and service learning is a growing one that involves all members of the University community—students, faculty, administration—and the citizens of Kansas. Together, we move toward the common goal of meeting the University’s avowed mission to serve members of the community, the region, and Kansas through orchestrated efforts that have educational and civic benefits.

From 1992-Today: The History of the Center for Service Learning

December 1992:

The University Board of Regents adopted a “Statement of Institutional Mission” wherein service is included as one of five commitments for the Lawrence campus and one of three commitments for the Medical Center campus in Kansas City.


February 1995:

Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway gave sustained emphasis to earlier commitments to service in his “Ten Points for a Great University.” A great university, Hemenway argues, “serves the society that supports it.”


The Serve Kansas Task Force concluded that service learning “has not been a priority.” As part of their recommendations, the Task Force suggested that the university promote “service-based learning as part of the teaching curriculum.”

KU became a constituent member of the National Campus Compact.

The Student Senate committed $27,000 to supporting a student-run Office of Service Learning in conjunction with the Center for Community Outreach. They concluded, after two years, that this office could not sustain its mission without institutional support.



A Faculty Senate Executive Committee Task Force commissioned by Lloyd Sponholtz and then Associate Provost James Carothers published its report on Service Learning Experiences at KU.

As a follow-up to the work performed by the Senate Executive Task Force, Senior Vice Provost Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett appointed a “Working Group” to address eight specific tasks, all of which related to how opportunities for service and service learning could be fostered through institutional support.



A Center for Service Learning proposal put forth to the Provost is endorsed by the CCO, CTE, Alternative Breaks, and the Student Senate President.

Tuition enhancement money was earmarked for the Center for Service Learning.

The Center for Service Learning was founded by Linda Luckey, Assistant to the Senior Vice-Provost, Kevin Hager, Assistant Director, and Hannah Ablebeck and Jackson Sellers, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers.



The Center for Service Learning awarded its inaugural group of 91 students with the Certificate of Service Learning.

The CSL welcomed its second group of three KU Americorps VISTAs.

The University of Kansas earned a spot on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the first year ever.  



The Center for Service Learning held the first Matchmakers event, a program developed to link faculty and community partners for service learning partnerships.

The Center for Service Learning names first full-time director, Andi Witczak.

The CSL welcomed its third set of three KU AmeriCorps VISTAs.



The Center for Service Learning continued to grow, adding an assistant director, a program assistant, and a faculty fellow.

The University of Kansas was awarded the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for the first time.

Certification in Service Learning expands, certifying an average of 350 students per year.

The Center for Service Learning confers the first annual Excellence in Service Learning Awards to faculty, students, and community partners.


The Center for Service Learning becomes the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility (CCSR).

The CCSR moves to Strong Hall from Carruth O’Leary and becomes part of Undergraduate Studies.



The Certificate in Service Learning becomes part of the KU Core, fulfilling KU Core Goal 5.

The KU Mobile Collaboratory is created by architecture and engineering students. KU and nonprofit rental of the vehicle begins for community engagement efforts and is administered through the CCSR.

John Augusto, VP of Experiential Learning, assumes Directorship of the CCSR.

CCSR creates mini grants to support faculty in service learning best practices at KU.

First annual Service Celebration and Student Service Showcase is held in 2015 to recognize nonprofit and public community partners for their collaborative efforts with service learning and volunteering students.



FSC (Fraternity Sorority Community) Partnership is developed by CCSR and SILC to connect Greek organizations and community organizations as service partners.



The CCSR reverts to its original name, the Center for Service Learning.



CSL releases Principles of Ethical Service, formulated in partnership with members of MEDLIFE KU.



Jomella Watson-Thompson, Associate Professor of Applied Behavioral Science, assumes Directorship of the CSL.

The CSL pilots the Student Community Service Collaborative, an opportunity for leaders of student service organizations to network and build partnerships. 


The University of Kansas is re-awarded the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

KU and the CSL host TRUCEN, Campus Compact’s annual gathering for research universities.

The CSL hosts KU Serves Week in response to COVID-19’s cancellation of many service opportunities supports by Alternative Breaks, The Big Event, the Center for Community Outreach, and more.

The Center for Service Learning develops the Civic Engagement Hub, a central location for information related to voting, census, and other civic engagement-related topics. 



The Center for Service Learning hosts the inaugural Summit on Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship.

KU earns a Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for a student voter turnout rate of 71% in 2020.

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