Friday, March 16, 2012
Westminster College's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is now the Drinko Center for Experiential Learning.
The Drinko Center was established in 2004 by a gift from John and Elizabeth "Libby" Gibson Drinko '44 to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education.
"The name change preserves our connection to the Drinko family, whose generous gift and foresight made the Center possible," said Dr. Patrick Krantz, associate professor of education and Drinko Center director. "It also reflects more accurately the Drinko Center's focus, which is to provide education through the experiences of research, collaboration with other students and faculty, community service and outreach programs, and presentation opportunities."
The Drinko Center's Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for Westminster students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences. From the inception of the grant program to the current year, research grants have increased from 14 to 31 and travel/presentation grants have increased from 26 to 125, with additional requests pending in both areas.
Drinko Center funding supports student participation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, an annual event that will be held at the end of the month in Ogden, Utah. Students must submit an application and are selected to present their research. Five Westminster students were accepted in 2007; 35 will make presentations at this year's conference.
Another annual event the Drinko Center supports through its Undergraduate Research Advisory Council is the Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration scheduled for Wednesday, April 25. The daylong forum offers students an opportunity to display, discuss, and present their research, give readings from original work, or perform musical selections or scenes from a stage production. Participation has risen from 33 in 2006 to nearly 300 this year.
Over the past year, the Drinko Center has overseen sponsorship for a number of community outreach programs that include: Resch Foundation and Grable Foundation programming; a fundraiser for Royal Family Kids' Camp; teacher education workshops; collaborative programs with Farrell, Laurel, Mohawk, and Wilmington school districts; Make a Difference Day; coordination of the summer food program for the Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank; Science in Motion, Language in Motion, and Sustainability in Motion programs; handicapped playground equipment at Cascade Park in New Castle; and Santa's Workshop.
On campus, the Drinko Center maintains the Civic Engagement Council, Service-Learning Faculty Fellows (32 service-learning courses during 2010-2011), and the Undergraduate Research Advisory Council; and tracks student volunteer projects and community service hours. It channels grant funding and sponsorships for an annual poverty simulation; Model U.N. activities; campus programming that includes speakers and special events; Newman Civic Fellows; Pennsylvania Campus Compact Community Fellows Program; and Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania.
Westminster has earned President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognition every year since the program was launched in 2006. More than 1,200 Westminster students volunteered nearly 30,000 hours last academic year (2010-2011) through academic service-learning or other community service.