October 11, 2006

SIUC, Women's Center finalists for Carter award

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A longstanding, successful partnership between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Women's Center in Carbondale is one of three finalists for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award. The Illinois Campus Compact for Community Service hands out the honor bi-annually to recognize exceptional collaborations involving an Illinois college or university and a community organization.

SIUC and the Women's Center will be one of three partnerships recognized at a special ceremony in Chicago on Monday, Oct. 16, when former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will announce the grand prizewinner. The three finalists will receive $15,000, $7,000 and $5,000, respectively. SIUC and the Women's Center will divide the award money equally.

Twenty-five universities and colleges, including SIUC, belong to the Illinois Campus Compact, which promotes civic engagement and volunteerism among students.

Mythili Rundblad, SIUC coordinator of civic engagement, student development and volunteerism, wrote the application for the award. She and Camille Dorris, executive director of the Women's Center of Carbondale, plan to attend the Chicago event.

"The relationship between SIUC and the Women's Center is one of a true partnership," Dorris said. "We could not do the work we do without the support of the students and faculty of SIUC."

Established in 1972, the Women's Center is one of the oldest centers for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States. At its inception, the center forged a strong and lasting partnership with SIUC.

The center draws on the University for staff, volunteers and members of its board of directors. Each year more than 100 SIUC students volunteer to help the organization.

"I see how much our students do and in what capacities they serve," Rundblad said. "The fact that Campus Compact recognized the University for the civic and service component of our mission is wonderful and that makes me so proud."

The University depends on the Women's Center for expertise in matters related to sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and treatment. The University and the center also collaborate on research and on coordinated community efforts to eliminate violence against women and children.

Rundblad believes the Women's Center is "crucial because it provides a safe place for women and children who are faced with violence in their homes."

Serving others and developing citizen leaders with global perspectives are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.