Dr. Jeff Gingerich, associate professor of sociology at Cabrini College, recently was named one of seven finalists for Campus Compact's national 13th Annual Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning.
Dr. Gingerich, who teaches a joint class of Cabrini students and inmates inside the walls of Montgomery County Correctional Facility, was nominated for his innovative approach to social justice, service-learning and community-based research and advocacy. He was honored in large part for his work with Norristown, Cabrini's primary partner for service learning.
"Being nominated for the Thomas Ehrlich award is a strong reflection of the work that Cabrini is doing as a whole in remaining on the cutting edge of service-learning by thinking outside of the box of traditional service-learning programs," said Dr. Gingerich. "I'm particularly excited about the fact that the finalist award recognizes the work of service-learning within the justice system, a difficult area to think about within service-learning."
Dr. Gingerich volunteers with two social programs in the region: The Graterford Prison ThinkTank involves prison inmates and an "outsider" group mostly of college professors and students, which discusses crime and justice and looks for alternative solutions to those currently in place; and the Montgomery County Youth Aid Panel, which meets with local adjudicated youth who are first-time offenders in Norristown and aims to establish the appropriate response to the youth's offense, while at the same time helping the youth and his or her parents understand why the event happened and what can be done to deter the action from recurring.
Dr. Gingerich plans to again teach the Inside-Out program in the spring of 2008 at the Montgomery Count Correctional Facility and will work over the summer with four Cabrini students to finish a needs-assessment of prisoner re-entry in Norristown. He also will continue to work with other colleges and universities in developing service-learning classes on prisons and prisoner re-entry.
Campus Compact is a coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents — representing some six million students — who are committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education. As the only national association dedicated to this mission, Campus Compact is a leader in building civic engagement into campus and academic life. Through our national office and network of 31 state offices, member institutions receive the training, resources, and advocacy they need to build strong surrounding communities and teach students the skills and values of democracy.
"Each year the nominations we receive for the Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning serve to illustrate the breadth, depth, and the variety of ways in which faculty employ service-learning to reach students and impact communities," said Maureen Curley, president of Campus Compact."This year's pool of nominees followed in this tradition, offering clear and compelling evidence that service-learning is securing an important role, across the curriculum, within colleges and universities throughout the nation."