October 17, 2006

SIUC-Women's Center partnership wins top honor

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The partnership between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Women's Center in Carbondale captured the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award, announced Monday evening (Oct. 16) at a ceremony in Chicago.

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

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter presented the award to representatives of SIUC and the Women's Center. The two organizations will split the $15,000 grand prize.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler was very pleased to pick up the phone in Carbondale and hear the applause in Chicago shortly after the announcement was made. "This recognizes an excellent program that is only possible through our partnership with the Women's Center," he said. "It provides crucial services to Southern Illinois and gives our students great opportunities. We are very pleased."

Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs, attended the event. "We're delighted to have a partner like the Women's Center in the delivery of much-needed services to our population in Southern Illinois," he said.

Also attending the ceremony were Camille Dorris, executive director of the Women's Center; James S. Allen, director of the University Core Curriculum and an advocate of service learning; Mary C. Rudasill, director of SIU School of Law's clinical programs, which provide legal assistance to domestic violence victims; Nanditha Balasubramanian, director of annual giving at the SIU Foundation; John C. Davis, director of Saluki Kids Academy; Cynthia H. Sims, assistant professor in workforce education and development; Katherine L. Sermersheim, director of student development; and Mythili K. Rundblad, coordinator of civic engagement, student development and volunteerism. Rundblad wrote the application for the award.

"We all jumped up when we heard former First Lady Rosalynn Carter announce Southern Illinois University Carbondale as the grand prize winner," Rundblad said. "It was surreal and a great moment for SIUC."

"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.

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.

"All the passion that I have for civic engagement and student citizenship was recognized by this award," Rundblad said. "Many times when you do civic engagement work, we see the students learn and grow but usually no one knows about this. But now, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter know. More than anything it's a tribute to SIUC students, staff and faculty."

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.