MNCC Presidents' Awards earned by students, faculty

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March 13, 2019

Laura Precourt

Laura Precourt

Gary Harala

Gary Harala

Elissa Brown

Elissa Brown

Sheila Nelson

Sheila Nelson

Both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University recognized three individuals or groups with 2019 Presidents’ Awards from Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC).

The MNCC Presidents’ Awards provide an opportunity for member presidents and chancellors to give statewide recognition to effective leaders in the development of campus-community partnerships. The awards will be presented April 10 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, and features a keynote speech by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Natalie Hudson.

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There were three categories of awards:

Presidents’ Student Leadership Award

This award is for an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building and integration of civic engagement into the college experience. A total of 27 campuses selected recipients for this award this year.

CSB winner – Laura Precourt, a senior political science major from Plover, Wisconsin. Precourt’s civic engagement activities reflect her passion for finding sustainable solutions to community issues – through the promotion of local food, through a personal commitment to environmental sustainability, by seeking sustainable solutions to social and economic inequity and via women’s leadership development.

SJU winner – Gary Harala, a senior economics major from Evergreen, Colorado. Harala is a detail orientated, first-generation college student with proven skills in problem solving, leadership and sustainability. His honors include SJU Caritas Man of Extraordinary Service, Elks Student of the Year, Entrepreneur Scholar and First-Gen Scholar. He manages the Greenhouse and is a co-coordinator in the Experience and Professional Development Office.

Presidents’ Civic Engagement Steward Award

This award is for a member of the faculty, administration, staff or a group (e.g., advisory committee, task force, project team) that has significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnerships, supporting others’ civic engagement, and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement. A total of 25 campuses selected recipients for this award this year.

CSB winner – CSB Sustainability Office, directed by Elissa Brown. The office works to emphasize and embed sustainability into CSB’s mission, institutional operations and outreach to communities beyond the campus. The office supports existing sustainability programs on campus, develops and implements new programs, empowers student leadership and facilitates the exchange of information and partnerships with collaborators. 

SJU winner – Sheila Nelson, associate professor of sociology. A strong advocate for experiential learning, Nelson loves mentoring students and has been involved in Service Learning at CSB/SJU since the program’s inception. Theory comes alive as her students interact with real people and challenges. Case studies of local organizations help students apply sociology concepts and research skills.

Presidents’ Community Partner Award

This award is for a community-based organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes. A total of 25 campuses selected recipients for this award this year.

CSB winner – Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). AVID trains educators to make learning more effective by providing engaging, rigorous and collaborative classrooms. The program impacts 2 million students annually. Jayne Greeney Schill, district director for the AVID Program in St. Cloud Area School District 742 and Cathedral High School, has facilitated service-learning experiences with AVID for multiple CSB students, and she finds creative ways to work with our students to achieve their goals.

SJU winner – Central Minnesota YMCA. Kids who play sports at the YMCA discover more than athletic abilities. YMCA youth sport programs emphasize fun, skills development, sportsmanship and teamwork. Staff partner with CSB/SJU students to support youth in reaching their full potential – building character, developing self-confidence and creating healthy relationships on and off the court.