Thursday March 22, 2018

Making an Impact

The University of Dayton received two awards this month at a national conference that attracted more than 500 student leaders to the University campus to learn and share best practices about community service and civic engagement.

The University’s Center for Social Concern and Fitz Center for Leadership in Community co-hosted the Impact National Conference on March 1-4. Historically the largest event of its kind, the annual gathering is dedicated to empowering students through service, action and advocacy. This was the first time the University of Dayton hosted the conference, founded in 1984.

The University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program received Impact’s Service Program of the Year Award, which recognizes campus-based programs that model student-led direct community service that have in some way contributed to making their campus and communities a better place for everyone.

Fitz Center Executive Director Hunter Phillips Goodman received the John Sarvey Administrator of the Year Award, which honors the life of one of Impact’s founders, who died in 2012. It recognizes a college administrator who exemplifies a commitment to its mission and values through significant, continued service and leadership.

Phillips Goodman has been involved in the conference for more than two decades, starting as an undergraduate student at Rhodes College, when the event was known as the Collegiate Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) Conference.

“Hunter has mentored an entire generation of young idealists and volunteers who have continued to make service a part of their own lives because of her influence,” said Steve Janowiak, an Impact Conference co-founder and director of Harre Union at Valparaiso University, who presented the award.

Phillips Goodman joined the University of Dayton staff in 2016 to lead the Fitz Center. Named for former University President Br. Raymond Fitz, the center is dedicated to serving the Dayton community through partnership building, leadership development and community-engaged, and hands-on learning with community, students, faculty and staff for shared solutions. It is home to a number of programs that help carry out its mission, including the Rivers Institute, Dayton Corps and Dayton Civic Scholars.

Phillips Goodman was recognized for her work both as an administrator and an Impact founder. In 2003, the COOL Conference became the Idealist Campus Conference, but four years later, the event was at risk of ending because its organizers wanted to move on.

In 2008, Phillips Goodman and five other COOL/Idealist alumni from the higher education and nonprofit sectors founded the Impact National Conference, building on the foundations of its predecessors to promote and support college student involvement in thoughtful community service and civic engagement.

“I am really quite honored in deep, deep ways,” she said, regarding the award. “I cried, which I never do. It meant a lot to me because of all of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into Impact over the years. Having the award named after a dear friend, John, means a great deal.”

University Center for Social Concern Director Nick Cardilino said he wasn’t surprised by Phillips Goodman’s award because her work with Impact is well known. However, he was shocked by the award for the University’s Summer Appalachia Program (UDSAP) because he wasn’t aware it had been nominated.

“Eventually, I learned that one of the Impact board members had nominated UDSAP because he did the program almost 20 years ago and felt that, in our humility, we didn’t do enough to draw attention to the great service our students do,” Cardilino said. “He’s probably right.”

The Summer Appalachia Program has a cohort of 14 students who spend nine weeks each summer living in community and doing service in Salyersville, Kentucky. The students live in a simple, old farmhouse and forgo many of their material possessions for the summer. They create and run an outdoor day camp program for children ages 5-12, operate a teen center for students ages 13-19, and visit a nursing care facility twice each week.

This year’s Impact Conference featured more than 100 workshops, an Opportunities Fair for internships and job possibilities targeted at student attendees, and speakers who included University President Eric F. Spina, and Dayton Mayor and University alumnus Nan Whaley ’98. University students Katherine Liming, a political science and communication major from Defiance, Ohio, and Bradley Petrella, an international studies and Spanish major from Hilliard, Ohio, served on the national planning committee.

“Our students and staff not only learned a lot and had a great time at this year’s conference, but we were also glad to be able to share our work with others from around the country,” Cardilino said. “We hope they learned about our distinctively Marianist approach to social transformation and that they bring parts of it back to their programs.”

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