Donation supports founding principles of university

The Scripps Howard Foundation awarded $750,000 to Northern Kentucky University to fund the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at NKU on Wednesday, March 5.

“There is no development on our campus that more fully reflects the values on which NKU was built than this new Center for Civic Engagement,” NKU President James Votruba said while accepting the gift on behalf of the university.

“The center will define what NKU is and what it values, not only today, but in the future. It represents that special covenant between ourselves and the public that we serve,” Votruba said. “We exist only because this community exists.”

Scripps Howard Foundation CEO Judy Clabes presented the award to NKU and spoke of the long-standing partnership between the Scripps Howard Foundation and NKU.

Clabes said the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement is “a new avenue of our relationship and a very unique and important partnership.” She also announced that the Scripps Howard Foundation will match 2 to 1 all donations made to the center by its employees.

Ken Lowe, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, said, “We as a company view this as not only a great opportunity and a great partnership, but something that really epitomizes what our philanthropic arm, the Scripps Howard Foundation, is all about. And that is partnering in the communities in which our company serves across this great nation.”

The Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, located in Suite 536 of the Old Science Building, has been operational since September 1, 2002. The center’s goal is to engage NKU students in service to the community through university-sponsored programs.

NKU senior Jeremiah Evans, an applied cultural studies major, spoke at the reception of his experiences with the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Program, a component of the Center for Civic Engagement. “Through the Mayerson program at NKU, I’ve gained a brand new outlook on what I consider to be my community,” Evans said. “The project has had a profound effect on who I am and who I want to be.”

Evans believes that civic engagement is important for college students because it provides hands-on learning and broadens horizons beyond campus. “[Civic engagement] is important to learn about others and yourselves,” Evans said. “Seeing the difference it makes is its own reward.”

Votruba said he hopes that Evans’ story will be replicated again and again and again in the lives of the students and the involvement of the faculty.

“Together, between the university and this community, we will do wonderful things that will influence the lives of people and the strength of this community,” Votruba said. “And that’s what this is all about.”

Votruba outlined these four components of the center during the reception:

* NKU Community Partnership Incentive Fund: This will allow NKU students and faculty to collaborate with the community on projects that address important issues in the area. Students and faculty members will offer research, technical assistance, outcome assessment and public policy analysis to the community.

* Mayerson Philanthropy Project: Votruba said this project’s goal is to allow students to invest in their community. The university will give students $4,000 to be used in a class project that betters the community.

* A campus-wide service learning project: This is a project designed to encourage all NKU students to get involved in community under the guidance of faculty members.

* NKULink: This is a public phone line where community members may call to request information on service projects. The goal of NKULink, according to Votruba, is to make the university more user-friendly.

Laurie DiPadova-Stocks, director of the center, said, “This is a wonderful thing for this corporation to do. In this time where so much attention is given to corporate irresponsibility, it’s a wonderful thing for a corporation to come the fore and set a national benchmark [for civic engagement].”