"I could really go on for hours about the work that is happening at Rhode Island colleges and universities to bring about positive change to our communities, and at the same time, there is still much to be done. "
Carie Hertzberg of Providence was named the executive director of Rhode Island Campus Compact in 2008. Rhode Island Campus Compact is a statewide presidential organization that strengthens the collective commitment and capacity of colleges and universities to advance civic and community engagement. She has extensive experience in higher education administration, communications, college access programs, and community engagement initiatives. She also has served two years in national and community service as an AmeriCorps member in Americus, Ga., and Boston, Mass.
Hertzberg received her doctorate at Johnson & Wales University in Educational Leadership this year, a Masters of Arts in Higher Education Administration at the University of Michiganin 2002, and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., in 1999.
She teaches at Providence College, serves on the Children and Youth Cabinet in Providence, volunteers through Serve Rhode Island, and enjoys the outdoors and traveling with her husband, Aaron Hertzberg, and two-year-old daughter, Jane.
PBN: In your fifth year as executive director of the Rhode Island Campus Compact, what do you see as the overriding concern of Rhode Island’s college and university presidents, and how do you help them address it?
HERTZBERG: I feel very privileged to work with 11 great college and university leaders across the state and it has been amazing to see the changes that have happened in higher education to meet the changing needs of students and communities. College presidents are thinking deeply about how their institutions are making the greatest impact on student learning and economic growth while being drivers of innovation, community building, and societal change.
At a recent Campus Compact executive board meeting, the presidents discussed the challenge of balancing the role and purposes of higher education while meeting many of the state’s challenges and opportunities. The Rhode Island Campus Compact serves a unique role of bridging community needs and assets with institutions of higher education in order to make positive impact on communities and students. We serve as the go-between, providing a space for cross-campus and cross-community collaboration with hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and community organizations.
PBN: Your organization is dedicated to invigorating campus-based community service initiatives. What is your favorite success story – one that had the most impact on the most number of people and organizations during your tenure?
HERTZBERG: I could really go on for hours about the work that is happening at Rhode Island colleges and universities to bring about positive change to our communities, and at the same time, there is still much to be done. We have been a very small part in supporting many programs, initiatives, and collaborations across the state, including new service-learning and experiential courses, PK-16 partnerships between schools and colleges, and campus-wide service programs. One program that immediately comes to mind that involves the most number of people is our Scholarships for Service AmeriCorps program, which in my tenure, has provided educational scholarships for almost 400 college students who volunteered for [more than] 120,000 hours and recruited 4,000 additional volunteers to serve at community organizations in our state. These college students have been shown to graduate in greater numbers than their peers and are more likely to find jobs after graduation.
PBN: You helped lead the Wisconsin Campus Compact previously. How do Rhode Island’s academic community service relationships compare with what you’ve seen in other parts of the country?
HERTZBERG: There is no doubt that Rhode Island higher education is a unique place for civic and community engagement. [The parent organization] Campus Compact was founded at Brown University and has grown to [more than] 1,100 campus members across the nation with a national office in Boston and 35 state offices supporting community-based work. Many of the thought leaders and experts in civic and community engagement have deep roots in this state. Brown University continues this great work through the Swearer Center for Public Service.
Additionally, when I arrived in Rhode Island, I was struck at how much college-level community service was happening because of philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein and his commitment to supporting many of the community service learning centers on college campuses. Rhode Island consistently ranks in the top states for college student volunteerism. What I think needs to be increased is connecting this strong student volunteerism to problem-based course work and faculty research.
PBN: Please explain the relationship between AmeriCorps VISTA programs and the state compacts: How do they work together for mutual benefit?
HERTZBERG: Campus Compact has a strong national relationship with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and locally, with Serve Rhode Island and the state CNCS office, as they continue to be one of our major funders and partners to bring national service to Rhode Island as a strategy to build communities and alleviate poverty. Through our partnership with Vincent Marzullo, state CNCS director, we have 13 full-time VISTA members who serve at colleges and schools across the state that are supporting college access, college success, and nonprofit capacity building efforts. VISTA members are able to leverage the resources of higher education to make greater impact in Rhode Island communities.
PBN: What do you like best about the work you do?
HERTZBERG: I think that most people would agree that the best work is work that you believe in. My day-to-day work of collaboration, fundraising, programming, and fighting for a larger-than-life cause with little resources can be exhausting, but I believe that there is no stronger or more influential institution in our society than higher education and there is nothing more important than educating our citizens to build strong, healthy, and just communities.
Though important, higher education is not just about jobs or skills. We must look long term and realize that higher education is about the future of our democracy; higher education is about leadership, citizenship, and social justice; higher education is about solving our communities’ greatest problems through research, teaching, and partnerships that have impact.
I do this work because education is the greatest opportunity to engage our citizenry, and democracy doesn’t just happen.