Students and faculty at Binghamton University interested in volunteering and community engagement will be under new leadership as of Monday, Feb. 5.
Kelli Huth will become the new director of BU’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), filling a position that has been vacant for just over a year. Huth previously served as the director of immersive learning at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she led teams of students and faculty in addressing local challenges through community service projects.
The CCE organizes programs, events and initiatives aimed at increasing the connection between BU students and the Binghamton area community. Its programs range from partnerships with local schools, which provide BU students with opportunities to intern and volunteer with young students, to various political-engagement initiatives, such as voter registration drives and Election Day events.
Huth’s vision for the CCE rests on her mission to empower students and faculty by providing them with the support and resources they need to make an impact on the community, she wrote in an email. She said she believes the first step to achieving this goal is listening.
“First and foremost, I am looking forward to getting to know more people on campus and in the community,” Huth wrote. “I will initially be doing a lot of listening and learning about what is currently underway, what works well and which challenges are most important. I cannot wait to learn more about the current projects and interests of BU’s faculty and students.”
The director position, which includes overseeing all programs and making sure each one runs efficiently, has been vacant since January 2017 when Allison Alden, founding director of the CCE, announced her departure because of a fall that left her unable to return to work because of the injuries she sustained. Elizabeth Carter, the former assistant vice president for student development, took over the role briefly before leaving to become president of Catholic Schools of Broome County.
BU’s reputation and the SUNY system’s focus on applied learning made the position appealing to Huth, she wrote. She comes to Binghamton with over a decade of experience in facilitating community engagement projects in higher education through immersive learning, which gives students firsthand experience with solving problems.
“My colleagues and I spent many years building a system of support for community-engaged activities at Ball State and we were successful in meeting the related goals of the university strategic plan,” Huth wrote. “More importantly, I learned how valuable it can be for students to connect with mentors outside the walls of the University.”
Kelli Smith, the assistant vice president for career programs and experiential education at the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, led the committee that selected Huth to head the CCE. The committee included Fleishman Center staff, faculty and administrators. Smith said the committee had wide representation from different offices on campus, reflecting the wide reach of CCE’s programs. After narrowing down applicants through Skype interviews, the committee invited its final four candidates to BU for a dinner reception and all-day interviews.
“Huth rose to the top of the candidate pool due to her two decades of proven experience, passion for bettering local communities, knowledge base and ability to connect with students, faculty and community partners,” Smith wrote in an email. “I have no doubt that she will help take our already strong Center for Civic Engagement to the next level.”
Alison Handy Twang, the associate director of the CCE, wrote in an email that CCE staff had the opportunity to meet with all the candidates, and she believed Huth’s vast experience made her stand out among the highly qualified crowd.
“Our founding director, Dr. Allison Alden, laid a strong foundation for community engagement at Binghamton University, and we are excited to strengthen and expand this work under Kelli’s leadership,” Twang wrote. “Moving ahead, we look forward to developing new and stronger partnerships that will provide opportunities for student learning and community impact.”
The CCE office, located in University Union Room 137, will hold an open-house reception for Huth from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Faculty, staff, students and community members are encouraged to attend to meet with Huth and learn about her vision for the future of the CCE.