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Released February 11, 2003


LONG BEACH – More than 200 educators from six southern states will gather on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Feb. 20-21 to focus on a variety of issues related to service-learning, which combines education with service for the betterment of students and communities alike.

The first annual Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning, Community Engagement and Higher Education is expected to attract service learning professionals – including 20 chief academic officers – from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park Conference Center in Long Beach.

The Mississippi Center for Community and Civic Engagement and the university's Office of Community Service-Learning comprise the leadership team that spearheaded organization of the summit, which will feature some 36 presentations and workshops on such topics as service-learning research, ethics and courses in the sciences. A second Gulf South Summit is scheduled to take place in New Orleans in 2004 under the leadership of Tulane University.

"The university has a distinguished record of support for service-learning, and we are committed to ensuring that our graduates leave with a strong ethic of service and citizenship," Southern Miss President Shelby Thames said in a letter to summit participants. "Southern Miss was the... first Mississippi institution to create an Office of Community Service-Learning dedicated entirely to supporting local community service and service-learning initiatives."

The service-learning summit – the first-ever such event in the six-state region – will focus on such issues as the current status of service-learning and civic engagement in the nation; the benefits of building and sustaining university/community partnerships for students, faculty, community agencies and educational institutions; and indicators and the development of service-learning and civic engagement infrastructures within higher education institutions as a means of institutional and faculty renewal.

Keynote speakers will include:

– Edward Zlotkowski, who will serve as facilitator of a seminar for chief academic officers on opening day from 9 a.m. to noon. He is a professor of English at Bentley College, a senior associate at the American Association for Higher Education and a senior faculty fellow at Campus Compact.

– Sharon Shields, who will be keynote speaker for the summit's opening session that Thursday from 1-2:30 p.m. She is assistant provost for academic service-learning at Vanderbilt University – the first such position to exist in the country – and also serves as an education associate at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Health Promotion Center, and as a professor of the practice of human and organizational development.

– Dwight Giles, who will be keynote speaker for an 8:30-9:15 a.m. plenary session that Friday. He instructs courses in learning and curriculum and institutional change at the Graduate College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he serves as professor of higher education administration and senior associate at the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.

Providing introductions for the keynote speakers will be Dr. Jay Grimes, provost for Southern Miss's Hattiesburg campus and professor of marine sciences; Dr. Joe Paul, Southern Miss vice president for student affairs; and Dr. Dick Conville, a Southern Miss professor of speech communication and service-learning faculty liaison.

Two $1,000 awards will be distributed during the summit – one to recognize a creative collaboration in a service-learning project and another to recognize a service-learning practitioner.

The Mississippi Center for Civic and Community Engagement, directed by Dr. Tom Schnaubelt, is a University of Southern Mississippi-based program that promotes community service learning and academics among youth through a variety of after-school and service-learning programs across the state. Established in November 2000 by the state Institutions of Higher Learning, the state Department of Education and the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, the center fosters partnerships between K-12 schools, institutions of higher learning and local nonprofit entities; and develops programs that integrate service opportunities with learning.

For more information, contact Vickie Nudelman, information and communication coordinator, CCCE, at (601) 266-6913, fax (601) 266-6886 or e-mail The center's Web page may be accessed at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM