Welch Fund finances service-learning initiative at Fort Hays State

Faculty members at Fort Hays State University now have extra incentive to employ service learning, a strategy in which students learn through a unique educational experience that incorporates service to a larger community both inside FHSU and the broader civic community around it.

The Provost’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows Program, instituted by FHSU Provost Dr. Larry Gould and the university's Service-Learning Committee, will award up to four $1,500 fellowships each year with the goals of increasing the number of available service-learning courses and contributing to the integrity and value of service learning as part of tenure, promotion, sabbatical and merit processes and decisions.

"The new program will be an excellent way to help meet the teaching and scholarship expectations of the university's relatively new and broadened definition of scholarship passed by the Faculty Senate," said Gould.

"Equally important, it will enhance the opportunity for faculty to earn recognition for their efforts to create innovative experiences that foster learning by doing and to include those innovations in their case for merit, tenure and promotion."

The PSLFFP is supported in cooperation with resources provided by George Welch and the Welch Charitable Fund. Welch is a successful entrepreneur in real-estate development, transportation, manufacturing, finance and banking.

Dr. Stacey Smith, chair of the FHSU Service-Learning Committee, has worked with Welch. "George Welch is an outstanding businessman with a passion for education," she said.

"His personal and business ventures have given him the opportunity to mentor many young individuals, including myself. I look forward to sharing with George the growth of service-learning initiatives on the FHSU campus that will be made a reality as a result of his generosity," said Smith.

The application process for the first set of service-learning fellows is now under way. The application deadline is April 25. The first of the Faculty Fellows will be notified on May 13.

The applications must include a description of the applicant's service-learning project or idea and a statement of why the applicant is motivated to participate in service learning and what he or she expects to gain from their involvement in the Service-Learning Fellows program.

Selections will be made by a panel that includes members of the university's Service-Learning Committee and, eventually, five current and former service-learning fellows. Appointments begin on July 1 and end 18 months later, on Dec. 31. The $1,500 stipend will be disbursed every six months, in increments of $300, $450 and $750. The Welch Charitable Fund has committed resources to support the program for five years.

Training for fellows is divided into two phases, professional development and academic leadership.

In the professional development phase, fellows, among other responsibilities, will participate in an orientation and development workshop, develop a service-learning course, and perform annual service as a member of the Service-Learning Committee.

During the academic leadership phase, fellows are required to give presentations on the purpose and practice of service learning to internal and external audiences and teach at least one course that includes a service-learning component.

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