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Dr. Scott Lester receives civic engagement award

March 18, 2013
Dr. Scott Lester

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Scott Lester, professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has been awarded the 2013 Sister Joel Read Civic Engagement Practitioners Award from the Wisconsin Campus Compact.

The award seeks to recognize outstanding faculty or staff members who have made significant contributions to the area of civic engagement on their campuses. The award honors practitioners who have built successful campus-community partnerships to both support student learning and development and the civic mission of the institution.

"This award is a reflection of all the great students and community members I have had the opportunity to work with as part of this class over the past seven years," Lester said. "Without all their wonderful accomplishments in the various projects this award would not have been possible."

Lester created and has been the instructor for a class titled "Community Leadership" since 2007. The course focuses on combining service-learning and leadership and development. Students accomplish this by partaking in service-learning projects throughout the semester. Over the course of the class, 225 students have completed 60 service projects, helping 45 different local nonprofit organizations.

Lester said he enjoys working with both the students and community members involved in the projects.

"One truly rewarding aspect of the class is to watch that 'moment' when students realize how much of a difference they themselves can make when they put forth effort to help the community," he said. "The second truly enjoyable part is getting to know other civic-minded people in the community. They may come in as guest speakers, serve as project liaisons or just help the students with information they need to complete the project, but it is a great way to learn more about the Eau Claire community."

In a recommendation letter for Lester, Sue Bornick, executive director of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, said, "The impact he has made in the nonprofit community is significant, and the stories of 'making a difference in the community' immense."

Dr. Donald Mowry, chair of the social work department, noted that Lester is dedicated to improving the class experience year after year. After each course, Lester asks for feedback from both the students and the community members involved.

When asked what factors may have contributed to his selection, Lester responded, "I imagine the focus on continuous improvement and making sure that the class continues to evolve and provide the most value it can to all parties including the students, the nonprofit organizations and the community at large, played a key role."

Mowry indicated that while UW-Eau Claire students are required to complete 30 hours of service-learning by the time they graduate, Lester helps to make the experience meaningful.

"Scott has designed ways to establish value that the students can identify with, such as letting the students see how the project gives them an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills that they have been acquiring during their college experience."

Lester will be recognized at the Wisconsin Campus Compact 10th Year Anniversary Civic Engagement Institute March 22 in Madison.


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