Last November, the Florida Campus Compact held its annual Community Service Directors Retreat at The University of Tampa, attracting university–community engagement specialists from around the state. USF faculty, graduate students, and community partners were present throughout the three-day event, and led two of the Retreat’s sessions.
Lisa Brown (Aging Studies) and Diane Williams (Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence) led a session on Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs), which are groups of 8 to 12 trans-disciplinary faculty interested in engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program. Approximately 40 attendees learned how FLCs can provide a supportive environment for faculty to initiate, promote, and sustain service-learning instruction and programs. Brown and Williams described the process of establishing and facilitating a service-learning FLC at USF, discussing how to recruit faculty, market FLCs on campus, facilitate an FLC program for the year, select a group project, and establish a venue for faculty development.
Robin Jones (Geography, Environment, and Planning), Tiffany Gandolfo (Anthropology), and community partner Liz Kennedy (Layla’s House) discussed Reciprocity with Community Partners, explaining how university–community engagement entails the sharing of each partner’s unique set of resources to help the collaboration achieve mutual goals that would be more challenging to accomplish as separate stakeholders. Jones commented on the benefits of cultivating long-term partnerships, Gandolfo described common drawbacks of semester-long partnerships, and Kennedy explained how the university can assist an organization in tailoring its services to the needs of the community, while in return the organization can provide a learning experience for students.