Service-Learning Advisory Council
The VCU Service-learning Advisory Council is made up of faculty and community members who have expertise in service-learning pedagogy and are committed to making a positive difference in our communities. The council meets monthly to oversee the implementation of the program’s strategic plan and to develop and oversee the implementation of new program initiatives.
Assistant director of field instruction, School of Social Work
Randi Buerlein teaches an international service-learning course during the summer session — SLWK 770/391 International Service Learning Study Abroad Program: The Dominican Republic — that is taken by students in the M.S.W. or B.S.W. programs. Students in the course apply social work principles and cross-cultural learning to conduct lessons and activities in a school in a rural Dominican Republic community. The students also assist with construction on the school building in the community.
Associate professor, School of Mass Communications
Yan Jin teaches MASC 425 Public Relations Research, MASC 439 Public Relations Campaigns, and ASPiRE Service Seminar as service-learning courses. Students in those courses conduct media research and propose strategic communication plans for organizations in the VCU and Richmond communities, supporting their organizational missions and goals through effective and ethical communication management process.
Assistant vice provost for Community Engagement, Division of Community Engagement
Dr. Seth Leibowitz began working at VCU in 2003. He earned his Ed.D in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University. Prior to working in the Division of Community Engagement, he was the Director of the Pre-Health Science Advising Programs in the University College. In this capacity, he provided academic advising services, arranged volunteer opportunities, and organized programs for students interested in pursuing professional level training in the health sciences. Before coming to VCU, Seth worked as an Area Director of Housing and an Assistant Director in the academic advising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served from 1995-2003.
Assistant professor, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Jason Levy has incorporated service-learning into his advanced homeland security and emergency preparedness classroom by having his HSEP 492 students partner with university and city offices to enact and test varying emergency response models. By participating in real-time response scenarios, students learn the processes of community emergency response planning while helping to improve local emergency response preparation. Levy is also interested in working to expand community work-study opportunities for homeland security majors, as well as for other students at VCU.
Assistant professor, School of Pharmacy
Sallie Mayer has developed multiple service-learning opportunities for pharmacy students in collaboration with free clinics, and is a preceptor for the service-learning-designated Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences course. She has worked closely with CrossOver Health Center to incorporate service-learning students in leading projects to develop immunization programs, assist with the care of patients with chronic disease, education Spanish-speaking patients with diabetes and develop culturally appropriate education materials.
Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Professor, School of Engineering
Gerald Miller teaches EGRB 491 Service-learning in Rehabilitation Engineering. In this course, undergraduate engineering students collaborate with community-based nonprofit service providers to design and build devices and systems to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. Students also use journal writing assignments to reflect on their experiences in these collaborations and to connect those reflections to the academic content of the course.
Assistant professor, University College
Kirk Richardson incorporates student-community engagement into his UNIV 111 and UNIV112 first-year Focused Inquiry courses, partnering with the James River Park System. He is a founding member of the Focused Inquiry Student-Community Engagement Faculty Learning Community in the University College. Richardson also participated as a co-author on a journal article manuscript describing the 3-Tier student-community engagement model developed by members of the Focused Inquiry faculty.
Mary Lamb Shelden
Assistant professor, University College
Mary Lamb Shelden is an assistant professor teaching the first-year seminar (UNIV 111 & UNIV 112: Focused Inquiry), second-year writing (UNIV 200: Writing & Rhetoric), American literature (ENGL 372: American Romanticism) and a new interdisciplinary course, UNIV 211: Food for Thought.
Randall G. Sleeth
Association professor management, School of Business
Dr. Randy Sleeth teaches MGMT 319 Organizational Behavior as a service-learning, social-entrepreneurship course. Every semester, his course enrolls between 40 and 50 students in each of two or three sections who work together as an organization to develop and implement large-scale community-based projects that meets a community-identified needs. In recent years, his students have developed and hosted the spring Carver Community Day for the Carver-VCU Partnership and functioned as a project management organization for City of Richmond and VCU initiatives such as “Love Your Block” and “Paint the Town Green.”
Assistant dean, The Honors College
Jackie Smith-Mason teaches HONRS 298/704 Civic Engagement, Community and Social Change as a service-learning course. The goal of this course is to prepare students to be more educated and engaged citizens through a combination of practical experiences in the nonprofit sector, readings about community engagement and social change, and in-class reflection and discussion. Throughout the semester, students in the class discuss the relationship between individuals and their communities, with emphasis on racial and gender inequality, crime, income, educational and health care disparities.
Executive director, Virginia Mentoring Partnership
Jennifer Smith-Slabaugh earned her doctoral degree from the VCU School of Education and currently serves as the executive director for Virginia Mentoring Partnership, a nonprofit that provides training and resources to support high-quality mentoring for Virginia children and youth. In 2009, the partnership trained more than 1,300 VCU students who provided 62,000 hours of mentoring to Richmond-area youth. VMP collaborates with the VCU Service-learning Program each year by offering service-learning students free orientation training sessions. Currently, she and Lynn Pelco, director of VCU Service-learning, are working to design online orientation training modules that can be used by all VCU students and instructors who are volunteering in the community.
Sara Wilson McKay
Chair & associate professor, Art Education, School of the Arts
Dr. Sara Wilson McKay is an ASPiRE Faculty Fellow working with ASPiRE students at Thomas Jefferson High School as they cultivate student voice at the school. She also created a close partnership with Binford Middle School (in ARTE 402), in which VCU students design and implement intensive units of instruction and take on special projects in the school. She is also leading an international service-learning class (ARTE 491) to the Guatemala highlands in the summer of 2013. In past summers, she has planned ARTE 301 Art for Elementary Educations students so that they partner with an early childhood program — once at a Richmond Public Schools Head Start program and once at the VCU Child Development Center. In both of these classes, VCU students make art and books as a form of reflection on their experiences.
Chair, Department of Gerontology
Associate professor, School of Allied Health Professionals
Ayn Welleford teaches GRTY 602 Psychology of Aging as a service-learning course. The course includes multiple community project activities that comprise the service-learning portion. One project asks students to conduct oral history interviews using a “What? So what? Now what?” reflective process. The history portion is shared with elders and their family members. Students also develop topical fact sheets based on gerontological research that are then made available to community practitioners and service providers at local events and through a website.
Associate professor, School of World Studies
Mark Wood has taught RELS 340 Global Ethics and World Religions: Creating a Socially Just and Environmentally Sustainable World Community as a service-learning course for many years. In this course, students work in groups to complete several Earth Community projects and write field journals in which they reflect on the connections between their community projects and the academic content of the course.