This summer has had some changes to the CCCE! Two staff moved on to new positions at the end of last year, so many of the continuing staff have taken on new roles and responsibilities. Along with this change, the CCCE also got to welcome two new staff members: Melissa Thomas and Abby Walker. I had the opportunity to sit down with Abby and Melissa and talk about their new roles and their approach to community and civic engagement.
Melissa Thomas, Administrative Assistant
As evidenced by her more than 30 years as a college employee, Melissa loves working at Carleton. The mission and the people at Carleton are a major reason for Melissa’s love of the college and one of her favorite aspects of her new role is the student interaction. She is enjoying learning about all the programs the CCCE has in the community and seeing the passion the students have for programs like the Food Recovery Network and Into the Arb, focus areas like Health and Well-Being, and the interaction between Carleton students and the Northfield and Faribault public schools. She’s also impressed by the CCCE’s Community Partners and their willingness to bring in Carleton students and hopefully enhance the services they’re providing.
Melissa believes that the CCCE plays an important role in the services provided in the Northfield community and she wants to support the students and staff of the CCCE in their work. Melissa’s experience in multiple departments gives her a strong background in the history of people, events, and processes at the college. Her past roles have seen her working in the fundraising Office, the Dean of the College Office, and in College Communications. The skills honed throughout her career give Melissa the perfect background to be the CCCE’s new Administrative Assistant. In her work Melissa hopes to be a good steward of the CCCE’s resources to further its benefit for the local community.
Abby Walker ’19, Program Associate
Abby approaches her work from the lens of social justice. As a former student, Abby has seen the CCCE from multiple angles, including as a CCCE fellow, community-based work-study tutor, and through volunteering. One area her work focuses on this year is participatory action research as an approach to academic work. She says it can be challenging doing so at an institutional level because even though the institution may be open to a change in the way research is conducted, the change itself may take a long time to implement.
Becoming a permanent staff member has been “important to understanding the role of staff in creating Carleton culture and having more empathy and admiration for what they do. A lot of that is kept hidden when you’re a student.” She says that being close to the age of many of the fellows and students really helps her have an understanding of the particularities of Carleton culture and how the CCCE can work with that culture to develop its programs and community conversations.
Director Candidate Visits Recap
The CCCE, in collaboration with the Dean of the College office recently conducted visits of candidates for the position of Director of the CCCE. Three candidates had the opportunity to come to campus to meet with both offices and talk to people associated with the CCCE, such as the Director of Student Activities, the Chaplain, the Director of the Career Center, ACE course faculty and students, and many others. Candidates were interviewed by the Dean of the College as well as by CCCE staff. Some of the questions asked by CCCE staff were about the candidate’s workflow direction, management style, ideas for better integration of curricular and co-curricular programming, and examples of times the directors have helped build coalition between groups doing related but separate work. The candidates were also given time to ask questions of the CCCE staff.
After having lunch with CCCE students and meeting with Community Partners, each candidate gave a public talk. In the talks, candidates described their research and the trends they’ve seen in community and civic engagement in our area. They also addressed involving students in ACE courses and making and maintaining community connections. As well as being interviewed and giving a talk, candidates toured the CCCE office and were given an information packet about Carleton and the CCCE. Finally, the Dean of the College conducted an exit interview.
The CCCE and the Dean of the College Office are currently reviewing the candidates who came to visit and hope to have the position filled by the beginning of the Winter 2020 term.