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Organizational and Staffing Structure - Overview

Page history last edited by Ariane Hoy 4 years, 11 months ago

Front Page / Campus-Wide Center/ Campus Wide Centers Staffing / Overview



Campus Wide Centers:

Organizational and Staffing Structure 

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download

Reporting Lines 

An established campus center with multi-year programs including the Bonner Program, other student cohort programs, faculty engagement strategies, and resources for partners can augment this work by building sustained partnerships and projects. Today, the number of campuses that had dedicated centers or offices for civic engagement has grown tremendously. Campus Compact’s 2014 member survey reported that nearly 100% of those responding in 2014— a total of 423 institutions—reported that they have an office or center to coordinate curricular and/or co-curricular engagement, with 57% reporting that more than one office supports these efforts (Campus Compact, 2014). Nationally, centers remain diverse in their institutional reporting lines: Compact found that 40% report to Academic Affairs; 37% to Student Affairs; 8% to both Academic and Student Affairs; and 6% to the President’s Office. In the Bonner Network, similar trends are observed. Whereas in the early 1990s, many programs and centers were started in the Chaplain’s office or religious life, the vast majority today also report to Academic Affairs or Student Affairs. 


Academic Affairs (Departments, Curriculum, Majors, and Faculty) 

Academic Affairs, generally led by the Dean (of the College or Curriculum), Vice President of Academic Affairs, or Provost, oversees all of the departments, centers, and units that offer academic coursework to students. Over time and as community engagement has begun to be more integrated with curriculum, especially through coursework and credit, centers have moved under Academic Affairs. In fact, in a study of the institutions that have earned the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, Welch and Saltmarsh (2013) found that 83% of these centers reported to Academic Affairs or were in the process of moving so as to do so. Such a reporting structure also emerged as #7 in the list of Top 10 essential components for community engagement centers. Whether a campus center falls there or not, it is important that the Bonner Program and center:

  • Strive to integrate community engagement with curriculum, for instance for formalized courses, credit-bearing projects, and other mechanisms
  • Build and maintain ongoing relationships with faculty and departments
  • Offer training, educational development, connections with partners, and support (such as logistics, reflection, student leadership structures, etc.) to faculty 
  • The Bonner Foundation and Network has also been working strategically to foster linkages with high-impact educational practices, student learning outcomes and assessment, and capstones
  • Bonner is also working to help campuses define and create pathways for students to do “Engaged Signature Work” - a significant culminating, integrative project that has a community engagement dimension or benefit.  These projects also connect with the work of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Initiative.


Student Affairs (Residence Life, Clubs & Organizations, Support)

Student Affairs is also concerned with the education of the whole student, focusing especially on what happens out of class. Some centers for engagement fall under Student Affairs. Often times, Student Affairs or Student Life oversees a range of areas such as resident life and dormitories, dining services, counseling, health and wellness, and careers services. Offices for multicultural education, diversity, and international students or study might also be a part of this (although sometimes these also fall under Academic Affairs). Campus security might also be part of this area. Centers for civic engagement might consider three important and powerful strategies for better aligning with Student Affairs:

  • Collaborating to articulate a campus-wide developmental model for student learning (this might also involve faculty and Academic Affairs)
  • Building and implementing training and leadership development for students across units, perhaps tying this work to a broader set of student learning outcomes, transcript recognition, or an e-portfolio
  • Creating seamless relationships and handoffs between different offices and units that support students’ engagement and learning. For instance, student leaders and staff from the civic engagement center might train Resident Advisors (RAs), so that students who do a one-time project and want to do more know how to connect with ongoing programs and pathways


Senior Leadership (President, Vice Presidents, Provost) and Other Campus Collaboration

It is important and advisable that the Bonner Program and a campus center for community engagement establish strong relationships and communication with institutional senior leaders. In particular, directors may want to meet regularly with (and keep informed) the president, provost, and other key vice presidents such as of Student Affairs, Advancement/Development, Financial Aid, and Admissions. Bonner Scholar Programs and funded Leader Programs need to align their work with Admissions and Financial Aid, including for recruiting, selecting, and packaging students. Additionally, working with Career Services, Spiritual/Religious Life, and other offices might be helpful for recruitment, training, and other engagement and support for students. 


Organizational Structure

While the Bonner Program may be built and managed out of several different offices, as has been described, ultimately the aim is to develop the sustained infrastructure for campus-wide community engagement. This information may help in your efforts to build and expand one (or more) established offices or campus-wide center(s).


To fully build and sustain campus-wide engagement as well as a strong Bonner Program, a formalized center or office plays critical roles including:

  • building and sustaining relationships with partners (schools, agencies)
  • building and sustaining specific campus programs
  • ensuring that student programs are well managed and sustained
  • fundraising and resource development
  • serving as a central hub for coordinating external relationships and projects, so that community partners and faculty avoid miscommunications, duplications of effort, and other challenges
  • providing and supporting faculty development and engagement
  • offering training, consultation, and expertise to the campus community on civic engagement


Best Practices

For the Bonner Program itself, a best practice (and indeed a requirement) is to have at least one full-time staff person for every 40 students. For campus-wide centers, best practices are evolving as the field itself changes and continues to find more evidence and validation for the value of service and civic engagement to student success, institutional advancement, and community change.


Drawing on a national data set of campuses who have earned the prestigious elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, Welch and Saltmarsh (2013) analyzed some of the best practices amongst these institutions, which must demonstrate evidence of campus-wide engagement. They found the following Top Ten responses, represented in the table below, as essential components for community engagement centers. We believe that campuses that host the Bonner Scholar and/or Leader Program should work to foster these essential components within their own campus centers and infrastructure. 



Essential Component

No. Responses


Budgeted institutional funds



Administrative support



Programming staff



Faculty development



Faculty leadership/buy-in



Student leadership/decision making



Assessment mechanism/procedures



Full-time administrator



Academic affairs reporting line



Database/tracking system



Adequate office space



Define/designate courses



Fundraising mechanisms






Transportation coordination/policy



Cross-campus collaboration



Course development grants



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