Gustavus Announces MNCC Presidents’ Awards for Civic Engagement

Posted on April 3rd, 2015 by

Campus Compact Presidents AwardsGustavus Adolphus College has announced that Nicole Ektnitphong ’15, Dr. Sarah Wolter ’02 and Dr. Paul Peterson ’94 are the College’s winners of the 2015 Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC) Presidents’ Awards for Civic Engagement.

These three awards provide an opportunity for member presidents and chancellors to give statewide recognition to effective leaders in the development of campus-community partnerships. The awards were established as an acknowledgment that outstanding collaborative work will not only inform and inspire tomorrow’s campus-community partnerships but will also play a critical role in garnering support for higher education’s civic engagement initiatives.

Nicole Ektnitphong '15

Nicole Ektnitphong ’15

Ektnitphong is the recipient of this year’s Presidents’ Student Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual student or student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.

Ektnitphong is on the Board of Directors for the Minneapolis-based non-profit organization Aynah, which facilitates cooperative education experiences for students around the world. She served as Youth Programs Facilitator for the Nobles County Integration Collaborative and is a mentorship cohort member. In her hometown of Worthington, Minn., Ektnitphong created and facilitated an identity and justice program for primarily students of color and also developed and organized an awareness and fundraising campaign for clean water. At Gustavus, Ektnitphong is a lead campus organizer for the Fossil Free Divest Gustavus campaign, a Servant Leadership Program Peer Mentor, and the student representative on the Gustavus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Sustainability Matters Committee.

Dr. Sarah Wolter '02

Dr. Sarah Wolter ’02

Dr. Wolter is the recipient of the Presidents’ Civic Engagement Steward Award, which recognizes a member of the faculty, administration, or staff who has significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnerships, supporting others’ civic engagement, and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement.

Through her position in the Communication Studies Department at Gustavus, Wolter has consistently integrated civic engagement and community partnerships into her courses and has also worked toward institutionalizing a culture and practice of civic engagement. When she was first hired in 2005, students in Wolter’s Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking courses partnered with volunteers and residents at local senior centers to conduct living history interview projects, collecting life stories about the senior citizens in order to preserve and present them to the community at large.

In 2007, Wolter played a pivotal role in the development and deployment of the Communication Studies Department’s new Public Discourse course, which fully integrates civic engagement in its design. More recently, students in Wolter’s Media and Society courses have partnered with the Jordan Public School District to bring media literacy training to both students and staff, first through a workshop with 150 students and later through a collaboration with teachers to design lesson plans to be used in the classroom.

Dr. Paul Peterson

Dr. Paul Peterson ’94

Dr. Peterson, who serves as Superintendent of St. Peter Schools, is this recipient of this year’s Presidents’ Community Partner Award. This award recognizes a community-based organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes.

Peterson has opened the doors of the St. Peter School District to Gustavus students who serve as peer tutors, AVID tutors, and volunteers for a variety of in-school and after school programs. He has also encouraged his faculty to provide practicum and student teaching opportunities for Gustavus education majors. This collaboration has allowed Gustavus students to explore connections with youth, develop new understandings of individuals, hone leadership skills, and strengthen interpersonal communication skills.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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