A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
February 15, 2007 Volume 37 / Number 5

 

Berg Blazes Trail with New Position

Deanna Berg

A new position at CSU, Chico is helping the campus take the lead in civic engagement, even in a CSU system with a determined focus on community-service–learning. On Jan. 2, Deanna Berg stepped into the newly created position of director of civic engagement, one of the first such positions in the system. “While a lot of my colleagues who work in service-learning or internships do civic engagement because they care about it, this is the first campus that has created a job around the full gamut of what it is,” said Berg.

What exactly is civic engagement? It is involvement in issues of public importance, particularly within the North State region. Berg’s job is to strengthen the University’s role in regional stewardship. She will “work closely with faculty and community partners to support creative approaches towards civic education and engagement among our students,” said William Loker, dean of undergraduate studies.

Berg, a 1995 Chico alum and former program manager of Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) said her focus is in two parts: The first is looking at ways to get students more engaged. “This can happen in lots of different ways,” she added. “CAVE is one example of that, others are the curriculum and what happens in the residence halls. The goal is not just community service—it’s also about developing the skills necessary for students to be successful in a democratic society.”

The other part of her focus is looking at the ways the University itself is engaged. This includes encouraging faculty in the “scholarship of engagement,” doing research that affects the region or helps public agencies. It also includes finding ways to collaborate more effectively with the community, such as using the University’s buying power to support sustainability. She wants faculty and staff interested in this kind of work to know that she will be a resource for them, and hopes to facilitate their efforts. “My role is that of a connector,” she said.

Berg is beginning her work as director of civic engagement by laying the foundation for the new position. Because the position is unique in the CSU system, she wants to make sure she gets off to a good start. “The job is exciting for me, but it is also exciting for our campus. We’re blazing a trail. We are going to be the model,” she said.

Part of laying a good foundation is helping to develop a university strategic plan for civic engagement, a project that was under way before her new job was created, and that will determine how Berg directs her energies. She is also assessing the University’s current, and significant, efforts in civic engagement by building on the recent selection of CSU, Chico to receive the new Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The designation recognized the campus for its widespread involvement in the community through partnerships, community service, and other activities.

“The application for the Carnegie designation was a comprehensive 52-page document with a whole series of questions that are indicators of engagement,” said Berg. “My job is making sure that we are always able to answer ‘yes’ to those questions.”

—Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications