President Thomas Shares 10 Years of Civic Scholarship with AACU

November 4, 2013

A story of partnerships of campus and community

TACOMA, Wash. — “We in the academy often experience this conflict,” write President Ronald R. Thomas, Academic Dean Kris Bartanen, and Dean of Students Mike Segawa in a feature just published in Diversity & Democracy magazine.

Like Tennyson’s Ulysses, who spurned the hard slog of common duties, scholars immersed in the liberal arts may “feel more deeply committed to contemplating great ideas than to exploring their consequences,” the three University of Puget Sound co-authors explain.

Not so at University of Puget Sound. Ten years ago, under the leadership of President Thomas, the Tacoma-based college addressed this apparent conflict between the pure liberal arts mission and the undertaking of useful work in the community.

The result was the Civic Scholarship Initiative, which duly expanded to the Race and Pedagogy Initiative, Sound Policy Institute, and Civic Scholarship Initiative incubator—all of which connect the college’s intellectual resources with community partners with the purpose of addressing issues of public concern .

Thomas, on this tenth year of his presidency of Puget Sound, was invited by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to recreate the story and lessons from these unusual initiatives. The result is the feature published in the fall issue of the association’s national magazine Diversity & Democracy.

You can read the feature and learn more about the decade of campus progress on meshing “great ideas” with “useful work” here:

To learn more about the Civic Scholarship Initiative visit:
For more about the Race and Pedagogy Initiative:
For more about the Sound Policy Institute:

Photos on page:  Top right: Schoolchildren from McCarver Elementary School work on a project, monitored by Puget Sound students, as part of a co-educational partnership between Puget Sound and local schools. Above left: President Ronald R. Thomas

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