David Chiles, director of the Wolfington Center, was nominated as one of six finalists for Campus Compact’s first Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement. The Wolfington Center is Cabrini’s community outreach center.
Chiles was nominated not only for his work in the Wolfington Center, but also for his work as Cabrini’s coordinator of Service Learning Resources. His work with the Cabrini Partnership Project in Norristown and his role in implementing Cabrini’s new Justice Matters curriculum are his major leadership projects of the year that led to his nomination.
Campus Compact is comprised of presidents from over 1,100 colleges and universities. They represent over six million students and are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.
The Leadership Award for Campus and Community Engagement is given by Campus Compact to a professional in community-service learning for outstanding leadership in developing and sustaining strong campus and community partnerships and fostering a culture of campus engagement.
“This award really is a recognition of the extraordinary things that are happening at Cabrini, the revolutionary nature of Justice Matters, a tremendous dedicated staff in the Wolfington Center and a truly visionary faculty,” Chiles said.
Chiles started working at Cabrini in March 2002 as a consultant and was then hired full-time that summer with goals to help students learn about injustice by engaging in real experiences.
“I believe that you confront injustice and change the world by changing the hearts of people and empowering them to take action,” Chiles said. “I think one way you do this is by putting people in situations where they can learn from those most impacted by injustice.
We need to experience and feel our deep personal and spiritual connection to suffering so that it’s no longer an option to do nothing.”
In 2003, Cabrini decided to concentrate on a specific partner community for its local outreach. This is when the Norristown project began.
“Norristown made sense because of its location, its large and rapidly growing immigrant population, our prior relationships there and the fact that it was large undeserved by higher education,” Chiles said.
Norristown was very open to a partnership with Cabrini as well. Chiles’ role in the Cabrini Partnership Project at Norristown was to set up the partnership.
“I like to think that some of the work I’ve been involved in?fund raising, community partnerships, advising on curriculum development?has helped the amazing staff of the Wolfington Center and our extraordinary faculty impact students’ lives,” Chiles said.
He also hopes the students he’s reached will create a more just and compassionate world.
As for the new Justice Matters curriculum, Chiles has been in charge of advising the faculty on the community engagement components of the curriculum.
Chiles would like to change the world. He knows he cannot do it alone but he is doing all he can to teach students and others for the future.
“I’m excited to explore how the Wolfington Center can grow as a voice for social justice on campus and how we can support, encourage and challenge students in the development of their faith and spirituality,” Chiles said.
“I’m drawn to both the wild-eyed idealism and also the less exciting nuts and bolts,” Chiles said.