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Spirit of Community

Written by Mike Thee
May 7, 2012

The Spirit of Community Celebration is always a highlight of Seattle University's academic year. Put on by the Center for Service and Community Engagement, this year's celebration on April 24 was made all the more special when, in addition to honoring seven individuals with Spirit of Community Awards, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., presented Seattle University's 2012 Presidential Award to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School.

As you'll recall, the university received this recognition in March. It is the federal government's highest honor for community service. The actual award was presented to Provost Isiaah Crawford at the American Council on Education's annual meeting in Los Angeles. He lugged the rather weighty piece back to campus, but its stay at SU would be short-lived.

"This is not an award that is simply for Seattle U," Father Sundborg explained, "but it's a whole neighborhood coming together and we're delighted to be part of that neighborhood." With that, he presented the award to two teachers at Bailey Gatzert who worked with SU staff and students to launch Brain Train (left). The program extends the school day to provide new learning opportunities for kindergarteners and first-graders.

"We wanted to select one partnership that we have within the community that symbolizes all the partnerships we have," Sundborg said, and "we want to present the award itself to that particular partnership as a sign of our appreciation and our oneness with all those with whom we gather. We're just at the beginning of [the Youth Initiative] and to receive a national award at the very beginning of something that is so important to us is beyond all measure."

Also at the ceremony faculty Le Xuan Hy and Marie Wong as well as staff member Jen Tilghman-Havens joined a community partner and three students in receiving Spirit of Community Awards.

Hy, associate professor of psychology, was honored for engaging hundreds of students in the study of psychology through service-learning and his extensive involvement with the community.  

Accepting the award, Hy acknowledged his colleague George Kunz, "who taught me the first steps in service-learning," as well as the Center for Service and Community Engagement and his students. He was particularly grateful to his department for being supportive of his community engagement efforts. "My department nurtures me…instead of yanking me back in they encourage me."

Wong, associate professor in the Institute of Public Service, was recognized for guiding hundreds of SU students in planning studies that have benefited the residents of the International District and other parts of the city.

Wong, who has been doing community planning for 30 years and provides a workshop-oriented approach to learning, said, "Seattle University has provided a very proactive environment for community engagement for which I am very, very grateful."

Tilgman-Havens, associate director of Jesuit Mission and Identity, was honored for creating and continuing such programs as Colleagues, Women in Mission and the Staff Serving Youth program, an opportunity for staff to use their Community Service Benefit to lead literature circles at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School.

"I feel so grateful to be at a university that lives out the Jesuit ideal of a faith that does justice and that does it right with our local community," Tilghman-Havens said.

The Community Partner Award was given to Asfaha Lemiem of the Yesler Terrace Computer Lab. Student awards were presented to Rosie Garibaldi (Social Work), Francesca Murnan (Public Affairs) and Adam Tousley (Master of Public Administration).

Visiting professor Deryl Bailey, the William Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Education, gave the keynote.