A change in leadership often means a change in direction. For the University of San Diego’s Center for Community Service-Learning, Chris Nayve’s recent promotion to director is a natural progression for both the USD alumnus and for the center.
“We run the office pretty flat, it’s not a traditional hierarchy,” said Nayve, who has earned three degrees at USD (BA ‘98, JD ‘06, MBA ‘07) and has been linked with CSL since 1996. “It might seem like a big shift in terms of staff being placed in new roles, but internally, it’s not that big a shift since we’ve all done elements of each others’ jobs.”
Nayve, who will continue to work alongside fellow USD alumni and veteran CSL staff members John Loggins and Brenna Hughes, replaces Elaine Elliott, who retired as director in June. Elliott replaced inaugural CSL director Judy Rauner when she retired in 2002. Nayve, 37, accepted the promotion knowing the importance of continuity.
“Part of it is honoring the past,” he said. “I feel lucky to have worked with Judy and Elaine. They were very important mentors and guideposts for me. They were close friends and it has always been a team thing here. I think we’ve always expressed ourselves as a “we” office. I’m stepping into a huge “we” with Brenna, John and Jaime (Rivera). We’ve had huge support from students, faculty, staff, community partners, alumni and everybody.”
Rauner, who passed away in 2009, started the CSL program in 1986 and was instrumental in providing the foundation of USD’s outreach to the Linda Vista community. Elliott came aboard in 1995 and expanded CSL’s reach internationally.
Nayve served in the U.S. Navy as a medic, which included a stint with the United Nations, before coming to USD in 1995. Taking classes along the way while in the military, Nayve needed only two years to complete a bachelor’s degree in history. He met Rauner and worked in a community outreach partnership center connected to USD through a grant the latter had with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Nayve completed his MBA and JD after joining CSL’s staff in 1998.
Nayve’s work with the CSL and the Center for Awareness, Service and Action (CASA) has been varied, including projects with elements of what Rauner and Elliott both championed. As the new director, Nayve said three areas — a continued commitment of working closely with USD faculty, enhanced student leadership development and the formation of an advisory board to maintain open lines of communication on how CSL is doing — are among his goals.
He got affirmation when he attended Diving Deep: Campus Connect’s Institute for Experienced Civic and Community Engagement Practitioners in San Francisco last month.
“I was one of the more junior people there with 15 years experience,” said Nayve, one of eight California university leaders among 40 nationally to participate in the four-day event featuring interactive workshops, presentations and networking opportunities. “It was good for us in the field to reflect on how we’re doing, how we’re fulfilling higher education’s mission, providing solutions for community partnerships and about the future of this field. It was an opportunity to recharge and get re-energized being around other people who are doing good work.”
Nayve certainly wants to maintain CSL’s solid reputation of helping USD students gain a firsthand appreciation for public service, providing them with life skills that can be applied to any career they choose.
“Well over half of our student population, undergraduates and graduate students, are doing some kind of public service work, whether it’s an internship, direct service, volunteering their time or some kind of service-learning,” Nayve said. “At USD, it’s a neat opportunity to match the university’s mission with action.”
— Ryan T. Blystone