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Campus Wide Student Leadership - Guides

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Front Page / Campus-Wide Center Campus Wide Student Leadership / Guides



Campus-Wide Student Leadership

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download




Identifying Student Leaders 

You want to be inclusive and strategic in your approaches to identify students for these various leadership roles. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind.


  • Build a diverse, inclusive team of student leaders. This means by a number of dimensions including:
    • Race and ethnicity (this is critical and should be modeled in every aspect of your program)
    • Gender and sexual orientation (given the typical predominance of women in service roles, you may need to take special steps to recruit more men into some roles; but also ensure gender balance in leadership)
    • Class (amongst your Bonners, most may be from low-income backgrounds, but think about this in other campus-wide opportunities)
    • Work and leadership style (using tools like Strengths Finder, the Leadership Compass, Myers-Briggs, and other frameworks might help)
    • Strengths and weaknesses (consider the aptitudes not only of students but also of the whole staff and faculty team)
    • Skills and merits (you don’t need everyone to be a great writer or good at spreadsheets; make sure you think about the diverse multitude of skills that make for effective service experiences and learning) 
    • Depending on your campus climate, other factors (like geographic representation or spirituality) may also be important
    • Campus representation (including different organizations and departments on campus including the Bonner program, other programs through your campus center for civic engagement, clubs/organizations, or academic courses)



Recruiting/Encouraging Student Leaders

It’s often important to seek students out and encourage them to take on these leadership roles — especially if you want to involve students who may be more reluctant for different reasons. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind.


Use both “small net” and “large net” approaches. (This ties into the Recruitment training, found here). What this means is:

  • Small net: make targeted asks and requests. Involve other student leaders, staff, and faculty in providing input and recommendations. Meet with students one-one-one and discuss possibilities. Nurture and advise!
  • Large net: cast a wide, inclusive net — so that students are also coming forward and expressing their own interests in leadership roles. By giving talks at meetings, having open office hours, and other strategies, you can nurture a wide range of students to show initiative and step into leadership.



Understanding Your Campus Environment

As you begin to recruit your student leaders into a coalition, consider your own campus culture and the challenges you and they will face in increasing campus-wide engagement. It may be helpful to run through a few of these exercises:

  • What pathways to service or civic engagement exist on your campus? Think as a first year student, new to your campus. What pathways do they have to become involved? Map out these pathways, paying special consideration to the following questions:
    • Do students know about these opportunities? How do they know about it?
    • Which pathways are the most utilized?
    • Are there pathways to service and civic engagement that are missing or underdeveloped? 
  • What challenges do you face? Consider the following challenges in pursuing greater student-led campus-wide engagement. Where do you have strengths or weaknesses? How can student leaders play a role in overcoming these challenges?
    • Finances and Resources: What financial resources do you have at your disposal? What other resources do you have that can be dedicated to student-led campus-wide engagement?
    • Time: How much time can staff or students dedicate to this task?
    • Staff Capacity: How many individuals do you have to dedicate to student-led campus-wide engagement? Is it possible for them to engage in this initiative, among their other duties?
    • Training: Do you have the capacity to provide training, skill and professional development, and/or reflection activities for students engaged in service?
    • Management and Support: Is it possible for you to manage this structure effectively? Can you provide the necessary support to make this initiative thrive?



Choosing your Campus-Wide Engagement Tactics

After analyzing your campus culture on service, you will have a better sense of which pathways need the most prioritization. These will be the areas that your coalition of student leaders will target when they convene and strategize. In order to hone those areas even further, analyze the following list of common campus-wide engagement tactics. Which stand out as tactics that would fit the needs and challenges of your campus? Which tactics should your student coalition of leaders pursue? Choose one, combine many, or create your own tactics to develop a strategy for the student leaders to enhance campus-wide engagement. Another option would be to choose tactics during your first student coalition meeting, with input from the student leaders themselves.

  • Campus-Wide Service Events: Student leaders organize and manage large service events to increase service participation on a wide scale. 


  • Series of Service Events: Student leaders plan and facilitate a series of ongoing service events, such as Service Saturdays, open to the campus.
    • The College of New Jersey: First-Year Community Engaged Learning (FYCEL) is a graduation requirement that brings the College’s values to life, and introduces students to the culture of the campus and community. The goal is to develop amongst students a sense of civic responsibility for the rest of their time on campus. All first-year students complete the FYCEL graduation requirement within their first year at TCNJ through the non-credit course FYC 100, which is facilitated by a TCNJ staff or faculty member. FYC 100 is a two-week course, consisting of two 80-minute education class sessions, one half day of service, and one 80-minute reflection class session. This model provides the students with an introduction to what community engaged learning is and some context for them going into their service experience. The half days of service are planned by the Center for Community Engagement staff with local community partners, based on community-identified needs. The result is a series of recurring CEL Days that are targeted toward first year students, but open to all students on campus.


  • Campus Calendar: Student leaders collaborate to create a campus calendar of service and service-based events that any students, faculty, or staff may participate in.
    • University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill: Campus Y is the hub of community service and social justice on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus. To cater to a population of ~30,000 students and the wide variety of ways that students can get involved in service and social justice, Campus Y has developed a calendar of all service-related events that is open to all students. These include workshops by guest speakers, informal issue-based lunches, skill-based sessions (i.e. grantwriting, Theatre of the Oppressed facilitation trainings), and direct service opportunities. See the campus calendar here: https://campusy.unc.edu/about/events-calendar/


  • Incentives: Student leaders help to found or build an incentive-based program for service on campus. This could include incentives such as transcript recognition or commencement awards.
    • Christopher Newport University: Developed with immense support and encouragement by the President, the Service Distinction (SD) program is a credential that any CNU student may earn for completing a total of 140 hours of service by graduation. The expectation is that each student enrolls in SD their first year and declares a service track - issue areas and populations with which students can become deeply involved - by the end of their first year. Then, students enrolled in the program can begin establishing a deep, developmental relationship with an organization within that track the rest of their time at CNU. If the student completes the SD requirements, they will be presented with a Certificate of Accomplishment, a SD T-Shirt, a graduation tassel, and a lapel pin. They will be recognized at a Service Distinction ceremony, as well as be presented with Honors at Graduation. After five years of the program being in place, there are now approximately 1,500 students out of 5,000 students enrolled in SD.

                    Service Distinction Program Requirement Checklist 


  • Inventory of Issues: Student leaders take the lead on mapping the campus and community for underutilized assets and unaddressed needs, which can serve to create more effective partnerships between the campus and community.
    • Siena College: At Siena, Bonner students are exposed to Asset Mapping in many different ways. First, portions of the Community Asset Mapping training module (linked below) are incorporated into the curriculum of their required courses to complete the Certificate in Community Development. Earning this Certificate is an opportunity that is open to all students. Second, Bonner staff facilitate asset mapping exercises during Summer Gear Up Orientation at the beginning of the year. This session is called "Capital District Immersion" and serves as a useful tool for students to understand and learn about their local community. Following the asset mapping, students engage in a reflection, which is linked here: Siena - Asset Mapping Reflection Exercise.pdf.
    • Community Asset Mapping Training ModuleThis three-part training introduces the idea of Asset Mapping -  the process of intentionally identifying the human, material, financial, entrepreneurial and other resources in a community - and applies it toward the local community surrounding a campus, as well as the campus itself. Staff may facilitate this training with student leaders, or have student leaders facilitate it with other students.


  • Culture of Service on Campus: Student leaders take the initiative in creating excitement and interest around service using strategies such as social media or large fundraising events.
    • Depauw University: The Hartman House, the hub of spirituality, community service, and social justice at Depauw University, has utilized a variety of web-based tools to create interest and appeal for civic engagement on campus. They use online tools such as Canva, Pixlr, Font Awesome, Online Image Editor, and Piktochart to create visually appealing announcements, advertisements, and calls to action to share via social media. In the presentation below, Assistant Director of Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice, Matt Cummings, describes the digital strategies that can be employed by anyone - either staff, faculty, or students - to market civic engagement and create a culture of service on campus.

                    Digital Communication - Matt Cummings.pdf  

    • Stetson University: A long-held tradition at Stetson University, Greenfeather originated in 1952, as an autumn carnival where students raised funds for local charities. Over the decades, Greenfeather has expanded to into a weeklong competition between student teams vying for the coveted Greenfeather Trophy. Greenfeather, with goal of raising $10,000, gives out the Greenfeather Grant during Homecoming Week for a capacity-building project at a local nonprofit agency. This event brings together students from across campus in a fun-filled week of competitive activities and fundraising events, all centered around giving back to the community.

                    2016 Stetson Greenfeather Video-HD.mp4

                    2016 Stetson Greenfeather Rules.pdf 


  • Coordinating Council: Student leaders convene for regular meetings to coordinate service duties and functions including transportation, reflection, and training.
    • Rider University: Rider began an effort toward student-led campus-wide engagement with the Community Service Council, a call to student service chairs from service-related clubs and organizations on campus. However, this model was not effective. Only three to four students would attend meetings, and there was no productivity. What evolved from the Community Service Council is Rider Service Leaders. This is a student-led organization, now in its third year, that accepts 20 students each year, not limited to just campus organization service chairs, but any student leaders who have a passion for service and civic engagement. This group of students meets every two weeks and are trained in reflection, awareness of social issues affecting local service sites, and community partner interactions. They are responsible for planning and acting as site leaders for campus-wide service days, as well as some ongoing weekly opportunities. As said by Joan Liptrot, the Assistant Director of Campus Life for Service Learning who first founded the Rider Service Leaders, the key to success for this organization is that there are many different levels of service that students can choose from. Students may sign up for service events and help facilitate, join other campus organizations and serve with them, or apply to be a Rider Service Leader. For more information, see https://broncnation.rider.edu/organization/RSL


  • Faculty Engagement: Student leaders are active in engaging faculty regarding the importance of service learning courses in a campus-wide curriculum.
    • "Students As Colleagues": "Students as Colleagues" is a term that signifies how students play a leadership role on campus, in courses, and with faculty.
    • Putting Students at the Center of Civic Engagement: “Putting Students as the Center of Civic Engagement” by Richard Battistoni and Nicholas Longo, argues that administrators and faculty must reframe the way they think and collaborate with their students in community-based work “in order for civic engagement to successfully address second-order changes”.
    • 5 Point Series Handout: A research report summarizing the insight gained by interviewing and studying five different campuses that value and are working toward implementing intentional practices centered around students as colleagues. The report also contains recommended steps for campuses who value this pedagogy and hope to implement it themselves.


  • Issue-Based Catalyst: Student leaders organize events and activities revolving around a specific issue, which serves as the catalyst or motivation for individuals to engage in service.
    • Ursinus College: Each year, student leaders from Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility, and Engagement (UCARE) come together to plan Community Week, a full seven-day series of campus-wide events raising awareness for a specific issue(s). The events culminate to a Community Week celebration, which celebrates all of the students that participated in the week's activities with snacks, T-shirts, and photos. It also serves as a way for Community Week participants to be exposed to consistent service opportunities relevant to the issue of the week. The participants will speak with other students and Bonners who serve at the issue-based site, and they will remain informed about how to become involved. See below for the Fall 2015 Community Week Schedule of Events: 




Training Student Leaders

Envision and develop a specific set of relevant trainings, educational experiences, and supports for student leaders. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Develop a thorough understanding of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that student leaders in the specific roles need. 
  • Get input on this from a variety of colleagues, including students who have been in the roles.
  • Take a look again at the Bonner developmental model and Bonner Curriculum for ideas of specific skills and competencies.
  • Make a list of these competencies and link them to position descriptions and other materials.
  • Turn that list into helpful frameworks and materials for the students, such as handouts and for meetings.
  • Then, develop a set of educational experiences and trainings – depending on the role, these could be provided in a variety of settings including:
    • Class Meetings
    • All Bonner Meetings
    • Courses
    • One-to-one advising
    • Peer-led trainings
    • On the job training


Here is a facilitation guide for a sample first meeting with your student coalition of leaders.



Examples of Campus-Wide Student Leadership Roles and Positions

For an overview of campus-wide leadership students leadership positions tied to Bonner, see Bonner Student LeadershipMore practically, here’s a listing of some of the other campus-wide positions that campuses have developed that may spur your creativity! Remember, if the student is a Bonner Scholar/Leader, s/he should still be spending 5-6 hours a week at a partner site (with the exception of Senior Interns, whose site is Bonner). Still, these leadership positions often dovetail with site-oriented work (that catalyzes and improves engagement).


Sampling of Campus-Wide Roles:

  • Project Coordinator
  • Issue Coordinator
  • Data and Assessment Coordinator
  • Marketing and Media Coordinator
  • Public Relations Coordinator
  • Service-Learning Coordinator/Program Associate
  • Federal Work Study Representative
  • Faith and Justice Representative
  • Campus Service Coordinator/Community Connections Representative (i.e., representative to campus-wide clubs)
  • Alternative Break Trip/Site Leaders
  • Oxfam Change Leader
  • Youth-at-Risk Program Coordinator (or other specific initiatives)
  • Sustainability Coordinator
  • Service Track Coordinators (STC) see campus examples for description
  • Site Team Leaders (STL) see campus examples for description 


Site-Based Teams and Project Coordinators

The work of community organizations is significantly enhanced because the Bonner Program structure provides students with the financial support and training to engage for multiple years with the same agency, issue area, and/or organization, enabling the students to take on increasing responsibility and leadership in their service. In part because of this sustained involvement, agencies can count on having a volunteer with their program for more than one semester and even more than one year. In that time, a student volunteer can take on increasing responsibility, including recruiting, coordinating, and even managing other volunteers or taking on project management. 



The Bonner Foundation hence recommends that each campus develop a Project Coordinator (sometimes called Site Leader or Project Leader) position. We encourage Bonner Programs to explore adding this formal position at any community partner site where there are four or more student volunteers. In the community partner component of the developmental model, this placement is generally part of the third year.


  • Have a project coordinator anytime there are four or more students working with a partner. Work with partners to chart a sense of how having a student take on such an enhanced leadership role could benefit their own site and delivery of services and programs. In particular, you may find the following handout, which is part of the community partnerships resource material online, to be helpful:

    • Defining the Level of Partnerships & Placements: a five-page, more comprehensive introduction of the level of placements (occasional, regular, project/site coordinator, and planning team/problem-solving) for Community Partners, along with suggested questions for developing placements at each level and solid job descriptions.


  • Provide intensive and relevant training to project coordinators, including in skills like:

    • Recruitment

    • Time management

    • Project management

    • Facilitation

    • Meeting planning

    • Peer management


  • Utilize the training modules that are part of the Civic Engagement Curriculum or campus examples (such as the Guilford College model found here) to support your training component. Because these skills are already part of the developmental model, and are generally addressed by or before the third year in the program (for BSPs), there is strong foundation for this position. The following trainings are particularly suited for training students for this position:

    • Action Planning: Developing a Plan 
    • Facilitation 201: An Intensive Introduction
    • Facilitation 202: More Techniques and Strategies
    • Planning Effective Meetings
    • Recruitment
    • Time Management: Managing by Calendar


  • Click on this printable handout for a summary of which trainings may be particularly helpful:

    • Trainings for Project Coordinators


Action Steps to Get This Started


  1. Identify at least a few partners with whom you are ready to engage in this way.

  2. Review the samples materials and modify to create your own.

  3. Formally provide materials and information in writing (e.g., you may choose to share this packet of information) and in person (such as reviewing this material with them).

  4. Make sure you are implementing your developmental model in a way that prepares at least a cohort of students to be Project Coordinators.

  5. Begin to identify some students who may want to take on this role and chart out a strategy.