Bridgewater College Opens The Center For Engaged Learning

Wades

Photo by Bridgewater College

Kaitlan Parker, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – “It is extraordinary, it is exceptional to be standing here today to think about an idea that started as some doodling on a piece of notebook paper almost two years ago has become this,” said President of Bridgewater College Dr. David Bushman.

Due to the dedication of the faculty and generosity of friends of the college, The Center for Engaged Learning opened their doors for the first time on Oct. 14, 2015. The Center will be the home for a variety of existing programs at the college as well as additional new programs.

“The Center [for Engaged Learning] is a home both in the physical and metaphorical sense. It is the opportunities that make a Bridgewater College education more than just a certification of knowledge,” explained Director of The Center for Engaged Learning Dr. Jamie Frueh.

The idea behind the CEL is that a college education is more than just what goes on in the classroom. “The center starts from an assumption that a liberal arts education is a single, whole thing. That living in a community with other students, that interacting with faculty in and out of the classroom, that finding ways to engage your time while you are a student all come together to make one project,” says Dr. Frueh.

The Center for Engaged Learning will be home to programs that focus on leadership and engagement in the community. The aim is to give students the skills they will need to become productive citizens in whatever community they become a part of after graduation. Some of the already existing programs that are coming together under the CEL are the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership, the Kline-Bowmen Institute for Creative Peace Building, the Wade Institute for Teaching and Learning, the Center for Cultural Engagement, the Study Abroad Program, Flory Fellows Honors Program, Endowed Lectures, Endowed Lyceums and Endowed Convocations.

The Center for Engaged Learning is based on the long-standing commitment of three of those institutes. One of those institutes is the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership, which strives to create innovative and creative leaders. Zane D. Showker was a philanthropist who dedicated many years to making a positive impact in the Shenandoah Valley. Representing Showker and his vision at the opening of the Center for Engaged Learning was his daughter Zanette Hahn.

Another part of those three institutes is the Kline-Bowmen Institute for Creative Peace Building. This institute strives to promote peace in local communities as well as globally. “That was really the passion and vision of Jim and Sylvia Bowmen,” explains President Bushman. Both Jim and Sylvia Bowmen attended the opening of the CEL.

The Institute for Teaching and Learning is the final part of the three institutes that make up the base of the Center for Engaged Learning. President Bushman announced at the opening of the CEL that the institute will now be named the Wade Institute for Teaching and Learning.

“It is with great pride and deep humility and enduring gratitude that I can formally announce today that the generosity, the spirit, the passion, the commitment of Dr. Ben and Janice Wade is allowing us to name, from here on out, our Institute for Teaching and Learning as the Wade Institute for Teaching and Learning,” announced President Bushman. This institute works to create opportunities for students to actively participate in their education by having them work with faculty and community leaders.

The newest addition to the Center for Engaged Learning is the Student Support Foundation that was launched on October 15, the day following the opening of the CEL. The addition of this foundation is possible because of the Morgridge Family Foundation. Both John and Carrie Morgridge attended the opening of the CEL. The purpose of this foundation is to give students the opportunity to help other students and learn about the process of philanthropy.

This will be the thirteenth Student Support Foundation that the Morgridge Family has launched and the third in a collegiate setting. In the past, the Student Support foundation has worked to assist in early childhood education by promoting literacy in low-income areas. One of the ways they have done this is by providing students with money to buy books at their school book fair.

At Bridgewater College the hope is that the foundation will be able to provide students with extra financial help they may need. Whether students need money for textbooks or money for gas to get home, the foundation will work to help them in any way that they see fit.

The Student Support Foundation strives to help students to find their passion. Carrie Morgridge of the Morgridge Family Foundation explains that students should not expect their passion to fall into their lap. “To find it you have to be looking for it. To find one’s passion you have to be willing to take risks,” says Morgridge. When it comes to finding that passion President Bushman advises students, “Don’t assume you are going to find it on the first try.”

The idea of having these moments that changes one’s outlook on the world around them is something that is important to all the programs of the Center for Engaged Learning. “The Center for Engaged Learning is meant to help students recognize when those moments happen, to appreciate them for what they are, to associate them with their project that they are here to complete. To help them formulate a process for creating more of those moments,” explains Dr. Freuh.

This is just the beginning for the Center for Engaged Learning. Continuing development of new programs and old programs can be expected in the future. It will be through the continuing dedication of the faculty that the CEL will develop further. “It is really their [the faculty] inspiration, their passion and energy that brought us here and will take us to a destination that I think right now is beyond our imaginations,” says President Bushman.