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Friday, March 2, 2012

Aubrey Swett named N.C. Civic Engagement Professional of Year

The North Carolina Campus Compact has named Aubrey Swett its 2012 Civic Engagement Professional of the Year. Swett is the founding director of UNC Pembroke’s Office of Community and Civic Engagement.

Swett with Chancellor Carter at the awards ceremony in Chapel HillComprised of 42 North Carolina colleges and universities, the North Carolina Campus Compact is a 10-year-old organization with a mission to encourage civic engagement among college students to promote life-long commitment to building strong communities. The award recognizes an individual who has deepened the engagement of campus, impacting community and campus.

UNCP Chancellor Kyle R. Carter, a member of the North Carolina Campus Compact executive board, made the award presentation to Swett on February 15 during the recent annual conference at the organization’s Civic Engagement Institute in Chapel Hill.

“Mr. Swett’s leadership in civic engagement is a tremendous asset to UNC Pembroke,” stated Chancellor Carter. “He and his staff keenly understand the importance of preparing our students with strong leadership skills that will elevate their chosen communities. It is an honor to present Aubrey with this prestigious award.”
 
Swett joined UNCP in 2003 and became director of the Office of Community and Civic Engagement in 2006. From a staff of two, the office has grown to seven today. Retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, the Pembroke native also directs the Veterans Education and Transition (VET) Program.

Swett talked about his work at UNCP the day after the award ceremony.  “The recognition is nice,” he said, “but it would not have been possible without the people who work in this office and the support of the university.

“We have experienced exceptional support from the chancellor, the provost (Dr. Kenneth Kitts) and the administration as a whole,” Swett said. “The growth of this office is evidence of that.

“Chancellor Carter’s vision of a university that is a community resource has made our job easier,” Swett said. “He has created a culture of community engagement.”

The success of two programs, service-learning and veterans assistance, are particularly pleasing to Swett. Service-learning, which incorporates civic engagement into the classroom, has experienced impressive growth. During the fall semester, there were 18 faculty and 336 students engaged in service-learning programs.

“Christie Poteet has energized this program through faculty recruitment and training,” Swett said. “Christie’s passion and experience with service-learning have been the key. Her ability to identify community needs and build partnerships has resulted in meaningful experiences for our students and real community good.”

For veterans, UNCP has established a system throughout the university to support their transition to higher education and careers. UNCP has won GI Jobs magazine’s “Military Friendly Schools” award for five consecutive years.

“I have been able to recruit three veterans who are UNCP students to work with transitioning veterans,” Swett said. “They have made a real difference by being in the classroom with the vets they are working with.

“Dr. Kitts, the provost, serves on our Veterans Task Force,” Swett said. “That is the level of support veterans are receiving here.”

Dr. Kitts offered this comment in his nominating letter for Swett: “Aubrey has helped set a standard for what he refers to as the intentional blurring of the lines between campus and community.”

Swett sees in UNCP an engaged university that is growing programs to meet the needs of its students and community. “In these programs, our students become the kind of leaders who see the importance of giving back,” he said. “They are internalizing this and taking it away from here to become leaders in their own communities and in the nation.”

For more information about the Office of Community and Civic Engagement, please call 910.521.6163 or email cce@uncp.edu.

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