Dear friends and colleagues,
At Western, we are proud to take a whole-person approach to higher education. We prepare students to achieve career success over a lifetime by helping them discover and use their purpose and talents in the workplace. But we don’t stop there.
As part of equipping students to pursue a life well lived, we also help them apply their talents and sense of purpose to volunteer efforts, service-learning initiatives and other civic engagement activities that help round them out as people and meet the needs of our communities. Our students do this remarkably well and to an extraordinary degree. They get involved in myriad causes and activities, from getting out the vote to tutoring schoolchildren to cleaning up the environment to fighting poverty to advancing social justice to working to improve neighborhoods and many other efforts.
In 2019, in the University’s most recent official accounting for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, we demonstrated that students, faculty and staff contributed 1.34 million hours of service in one year toward community engagement. Using Michigan's 2019 volunteer equivalency hourly rate of $25.79, that equates to a $34.5 million investment in serving the people in our region. And even after the emergence of COVID-19 when the ensuing pandemic greatly limited in-person interaction, Broncos still found ways to lift communities and causes—with about 90,000 hours in service-learning initiatives alone, by one estimate.
The notional dollar amount and actual hours of service are impressive numbers. They help illustrate the magnitude and depth of our community’s capacity to care for others. The full value of service, however, is in many ways immeasurable but nonetheless profound.
As one of our graduates shared, “Through service learning, I’ve become aware of the potential impact and influence I have on those around me and how much of an impact community members have on me just by being ‘in the moment’ and engaging with them. This idea has become a large part of career development for me.”
That experience speaks to the beauty and value of holistic development. Guided by our community’s belief in the power of service to others, our students recognize in themselves the power to make a difference, not just in one part of life but across multiple dimensions. When they graduate, they are ready to add value in jobs and work environments wherever they go. They also are prepared to contribute in other ways that make communities stronger. Using their gifts and talents, they make a difference. This edition of the W Magazine highlights some of the ways Broncos serve in professional capacities and more broadly as citizens in their communities. Their stories inspire and they make us proud.
Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.
Dr. Lauron Kehrer's first book delves into the roots of hip-hop, wading through long-held stereotypes of misogyny and homophobia to expose a richer lineage of queer Black and Latinx music-making practices and spaces as well as reclaim the work as essential to hip-hop history.