Campus Compact, a nationwide consortium of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to civic education and community development, recently announced the creation of the Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation. The award will recognize 4-year institutions that have worked to address issues of social concern by aligning practice and values in service of the common good.
Nominations for the Guarasci Award are due by Jan. 7, and the winner will be recognized at the organization’s national conference next March in Seattle.
Wagner College President Emeritus Richard Guarasci, who retired in June, was a pioneer in the field of civic engagement in higher education.
“I am humbled by this national recognition,” Guarasci said. “Such an award is never ever a one-person achievement. My work in civic engagement always has been in deep partnership and friendship with so many from the Wagner and Staten Island communities, as well as from my deep collaborative partners involved in national higher education.
“I hope the award will inspire and recognize the critically important work of transforming colleges and their communities in building a vibrant American democracy and a dynamic American economy,” he said.
“The list of people who have done more than Richard Guarasci to advance higher education’s civic mission is very short,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “Both through his leadership at Wagner and his work in national organizations, including Campus Compact, Richard showed what it looks like to build real partnerships that foster voice and opportunity for communities that have faced exclusion. Because he has also been an important mentor for me personally, it is especially gratifying that our board of directors chose to honor Richard through the naming of this award.”
When Richard Guarasci joined the Wagner community in 1997 as provost, he immediately began working with the faculty to reconfigure the college’s core curriculum. The Wagner Plan for the Practical Liberal Arts is still the school’s signature academic program. One major element of the Wagner Plan is targeted field work by academic departments, classes and faculty members and student practica/internships with civic organizations and community leaders.
After becoming president of Wagner College in 2002, Guarasci established a formal partnership between the college and a variety of businesses, schools, churches and other community organizations in the Staten Island community of Port Richmond. The Port Richmond Partnership fosters sustainable relationships between members of the Port Richmond and Wagner College communities to enhance student learning and raise civic awareness. It addresses significant challenges in five high-need areas identified by Port Richmond community partners: arts, education, health, economic development and immigration.
Richard Guarasci is a former chairman of the board of Campus Compact. He has also been board chairman for the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Guarasci served on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Task Force for Civic Engagement, which produced a groundbreaking report entitled “The Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future.”
He is a co-author of “Democratic Education in an Age of Difference: Reinventing Citizenship in Higher Education” (Jossey-Bass, 1997).