A memorial this week brought friends and colleagues together to remember Susan Shumer, who died on Nov. 19.
Shumer was the founding director of the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL), which became the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship prior to her January 2013 retirement as director emerita.
She came to Metropolitan State as its academic internship coordinator in 1992. In 1996, she co-founded CCBL and became its director. Her work was always guided by the convictions that Metropolitan State was built upon having strong relationships with the community, and that we must collaborate internally if we want to have effective collaborations externally. She made sure the university’s founding commitment to honoring community-situated knowledge remained central to our work.
Her influence led to many program innovations and national recognitions for Metropolitan State. Thanks to her vision and industry, community engagement as an approach to teaching, learning, and scholarship became “institutionalized”—in the finest sense of that word—at Metropolitan State, anchoring an institutional ethos and reputation as an “engaged campus” into which we continue to live and grow.
President Ginny Arthur at the memorial announced the creation of a fund to support Shumer’s legacy of community-based scholarship. The fund will be administered by the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship.
“I am very grateful to announce the establishment of the Shumer Community Engagement Fund. This fund, founded on combined gifts from Susan’s estate and from Rob (Shumer), will support programming in the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship,” President Arthur said.
“On behalf of the entire university community, I want to express our deepest appreciation for this gift from Susan and Rob, and to the family for bringing it to fruition.”
Shumer’s high points at Metropolitan State are marked by many accomplishments, including the following:
- 1998: Received a HUD “Community Outreach Partnership Centers” grant to work in collaboration with community partners on affordable housing in the East Side;
- 1999: Began efforts to position Metropolitan State for Campus Compact’s “Engaged Campus” designation;
- 2001: Launched Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders) in collaboration with MCTC;
- 2002: Received funding from Minnesota Office of Higher Education to fund From Programs to Practice: Building the Engaged Campus;
- 2003: Established the “American Democracy Project” at Metropolitan State, in partnership with the New York Times and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities;
- 2003: Metropolitan State and LISC were named finalists for the “Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaborations;”
- 2005: Developed the Circle of Engaged Learning, a visual representation of a social change model that connects civic engagement to the mission and vision of the university;
- 2005: Organized the university’s inaugural observance of Constitution Day – A conversation with members of the Minnesota Supreme Court: The Significance of Supreme Court Nominations in the Constitutional Context, and Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom;
- 2006: Established the President’s Circle of Engagement program to recognize faculty members for integration of community engagement into their teaching and scholarship;
- 2007: Hosted Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu during Metropolitan State’s hosting of youthrive’s PeaceJam conference;
- 2008: Conducted institutional self-study to secure the Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification for Metropolitan State (Susan also contributed to the renewal of this classification in 2015);
- 2008: Launched Metro State Votes, a series of activities and programs to inform, engage, and involve the university community in civic action during each election season;
- 2009: Metropolitan State was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction (the first of two such recognitions of the university by the Obama administration);
- 2012: Developed and launched the “Community Engagement” course designation process to assist students in identifying community-engaged learning opportunities in the course schedule;
- Led the process that resulted in re-naming “CCBL” as “ICES,” broadening its scope and placing it on an enterprise-wide footing within the university.