Wittenberg’s service-centered mission continues to engage students as the University concludes its official Welcome Week for the class of 2024.
During a normal Welcome Week, community service coordinators from the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement traditionally host the annual Service Plunge, which helps students explore the various options for service in the Springfield community, along with discussing the Wittenberg’s unique community service graduation requirement.
This year will be different, though, as students will be introduced to the Hagen Center itself, the hub of community service at Wittenberg, through a mini project in the more than 20 First-Year Seminar (FYS) meetings slated for Friday, Aug. 14, beginning at 9 a.m. This collaboration between the Hagen Center, the COMPASS: Sweet Success Center, and the Office of First-Year Seminar will allow Wittenberg students to connect with third graders at Springfield’s Promise Neighborhood, as well as learn all the ways Wittenberg and its hometown partner in service.
"We have a long tradition of service at Wittenberg, and it is important to demonstrate that commitment from the beginning. We are fortunate to have community partners like Kali Lawrence ’12 and Promise Neighborhood that find creative ways for our students to engage with Springfield during this challenging time," said Hagen Center Director Ed Hasecke, professor of political science and a 1997 Wittenberg alumnus.
In the initial project, students will be given a bracelet kit and letters to send a positive note to a group of third graders that could use the extra encouragement going into the challenging school year. Bracelets will serve as a visual reminder to Wittenberg students of the commitment they have made to themselves and to the third graders. The third graders will receive the letter from a Wittenberg student and a kit to make their own bracelet as a visual reminder to work hard and ask for help as mentioned in the letter. Later in the semester, FYS students will be reconnected with their third-graders.
The Hagen Center sponsors several annual events that connect the Wittenberg community and the Greater Springfield community. Events range from direct service projects to community engagement experiences exemplifying the significance of service as part a Wittenberg education and the work of the Hagen Center, which Ohio’s former Lieutenant Governor called a model for how universities and communities should work together.
Also, during the FYS meeting, organizers will show a nine-minute video with messages from such Wittenberg alumni as Bryan Heck ‘06, Springfield City Manager; Shannon Meadows ’99, development director for the City of Springfield; Hasecke; and Lawrence, who serves as the director of Promise Neighborhood; along with Warren Copeland, professor emeritus of religion and Springfield’s mayor; Emmanuel Thombs ’22, Student Senate officer, and Amy McGuffey, assistant professor of education.
Also of note, Mayor Copeland recently declared Aug. 17, the first day of Wittenberg classes, as the Class of 2024 Day in Springfield.