Claire Allison Named New Director of Center for Community Engagement
Claire Allison never saw herself where she is today — leading the Center for Community Engagement. However, her history and experience with the center means she was more than ready to be the next director.
"Allison has been developing students in the Center for Community Engagement for almost a decade, first as a graduate assistant, second as a program coordinator, third as an assistant director and most recently as the associate director," said Lori Lander, assistant vice chancellor for Campus Life and associate dean of students. "There is no one more qualified to lead the center as a student advocate with a heart for service than Allison."
Allison said she didn't expect to stay in student affairs past graduate school. However, once she was working in the area full time, she really loved the dynamic and creative work of the CCE and Volunteer Action Center.
"I really love the opportunity to foster student growth through engagement with challenging social issues," Allison said. "In my time here, I've learned that students care deeply about their communities, and they have both the skills and the motivation to create meaningful change."
The Center for Community Engagement was established as a department in 2011 to help students to become engaged citizens through service and experiential learning. The Volunteer Action Center is a student-led organization in the CCE that connects U of A students to volunteering opportunities in the Northwest Arkansas community. The VAC consists of a student leadership board and general student volunteer members.
The previous and founding director of the CCE, Angela Oxford, recently left for other opportunities, and Allison worked with and learned a lot from her during their time in the department together.
"Angela and I worked together for eight years, and I learned so much from her — but one of the most important things I learned is the power of saying 'yes' to new opportunities and embracing change," Allison said. "The campus community is ever-changing, and we work with new students to address new needs every year. To remain relevant and authentic, our student leaders service programming must be adaptable, and Angela was so intentional about weaving adaptation into the fabric of VAC and CCE."
Allison brings her own touch and experiences to the director's position and is excited to build on the already successful programming "while exploring new ways that the CCE can be of service to our campus and broader community," she said.
"I think I provide important historical context for the programs, which helps to inform their future work. I have previously advised nearly all the programs of the VAC, and I hope to provide a foundation of knowledge that can help to move their programming forward," Allison said.
Later this semester the CCE will be moving to a newly renovated space on the second floor of the Arkansas Union.
'This new office space will create more opportunities to engage with our community and will offer a dedicated space for VAC operations and programming," Allison said. "We are so grateful for this investment in our office and look forward to the new possibilities this space will bring."
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