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Millsaps College Announces Institute for Civic and Professional Engagement

by Web on April 11, 2016

Millsaps College has announced the creation of a distinctive leadership development program, known as the Institute for Civic and Professional Engagement. Identified as a key goal in the institution’s strategic plan, Across the Street and Around the Globe: Partnerships and Influence at Millsaps College, the Institute was developed by a task force of campus faculty, staff, and students over the course of the past year.

Millsaps’ distinctive strengths as a liberal arts college include providing our students an intimate teaching and learning environment as well as opportunities for them to engage in civic and professional experiences beyond campus that are rich, varied, and connected to their classroom experience,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps.  “Individuals, academic programs, and communities can be transformed when students have opportunities for experiential learning that connect deeply to their education. The Institute will build upon our unique location in a capital city and opportunities to provide a concrete, systematic, and imaginative approach for connecting classroom and non-classroom experiences with civic and professional exploration.”  

The Institute will facilitate student development along a continuum of engagement from living and learning communities, in-depth student research projects, and study abroad to co-curricular service projects and professional internships. The Institute will also help ensure that Millsaps students graduate with the best classical education and with career goals, civic commitments, and professional skills that equip them for lives of meaning, good citizenship, and leadership.

Kenneth Townsend, who currently serves as special assistant to Dr. Pearigen and as an assistant professor of political science, has been appointed as executive director of the Institute.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this important new initiative, and to support the growth of exciting partnerships between Millsaps College, our students, and communities near and far from Millsaps,” Townsend said. “As a native Mississippian, I see tremendous potential for this Institute and how it can support engaged learning and service that benefit all involved.”

A native of Attala County, Townsend is a 2004 graduate of Millsaps with an M.Phil. from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and an M.A. from Yale Divinity School and J.D. from Yale Law School.

“The Institute is a natural outgrowth of our mission, location, and Wesleyan heritage,” Townsend continued. “A dedicated Institute for Civic and Professional Engagement will expand current experiential learning programs to reach more students, and will provide the structure to coordinate these programs in ways that make specific connections to the academic environment and larger community, all while building upon the College’s distinctive mission and helping address the needs of the city, state, and region.”