The exemplary work done by the University of San Diego’s Center for Community Service-Learning (CSL) is a collaborative effort among staff, students, faculty members, community partners and other volunteers. To stimulate real change, the center approaches with genuine respect, compassion and a relationship mindset to build community through consistent and side-by-side support.
More than 1,100 donors, including Tom ’77 (JD) and Karen Mulvaney (pictured), showed their generous support for CSL’s efforts and changemaking philosophy this past fiscal year. Together, they produced a $900,000 gift through the Mulvaney Challenge and contributed to a $1.2 million endowment for CSL.
“It’s big,” said Chris Nayve, CSL director, about the success of the Mulvaney Challenge and what it provides for the center. “This endowment helps support our immersion programs that facilitate student and faculty research, supports our work with microfinance in San Diego and community and youth development programs. It’s very big.”
The Mulvaney Challenge was simple. The couple wanted to support CSL and set USD’s goal to raise $400,000 during the fiscal year. In turn, the Mulvaneys agreed to match it dollar for dollar. Wonderful support from USD parents, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators and through the efforts of current students in the university’s Telefunding Office, USD raised $450,000. The Mulvaneys matched it and, thus, doubled the impact for CSL and its programs.
“Karen and I are so very pleased with the response of the community to the Challenge,” Tom Mulvaney said. “These monies will enable our USD students to understand the extrinsic and intrinsic value of service to and for others.”
Two of the brightest results of the fiscal-year campaign are that more people became aware of CSL’s work and that a plethora of smaller donations — $50 or less — made a big difference.
“Every gift counts,” said Sandra Ciallella, USD associate vice president of development.
The Challenge helped CSL and it paid homage to Tom’s late father, Jim Mulvaney, a noted civic leader in San Diego and USD School of Law professor (1957-63). Jim worked with United Way, Mercy Hospital Foundation, St. Vincent De Paul and many others. He was involved at USD, serving on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Auxiliary Board in 1980 and the School of Law’s Board of Visitors (2001-09). He established the Maudsley Fellows Society to honor the law school’s most generous donors.
“He always said it didn’t matter who you are as a human being, in terms of how much money you make, but what’s really important is that you’re helping other people,” Tom Mulvaney said. “He always emphasized the need to stay active, work hard, be involved and be humble.”
Tom, one of four relatives to obtain a USD law degree and the father of Mason, who earned a BA in English in 2009, said CSL was a great fit to give back to USD.
One of CSL’s biggest assets comes through its participation: More than 500 USD courses have included a community-service component. More than 6,600 USD students annually (undergraduate and graduate) participate in service-learning projects, which totals nearly 400,000 hours of community service.
“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.”
The Mulvaneys met with Nayve to learn about CSL’s diverse programming that assists local schools and organizations in building community, participates in microfinance loan programs, and student immersion trips to New Orleans, Tijuana and Duncans, Jamaica that follow a similarly mindful approach. Just recently, Nayve and CSL Associate Director John Loggins traveled to Guatemala with current MBA students to explore ideas, including connections that emphasize USD’s newest designation as a Fair Trade University.
“We connected with Changemakers there in a variety of contexts,” said an encouraged Nayve. Experiences like this, along with additional resources, can open up more collaboration, more exploration and the emergence of new, innovative ways to serve.
“We feel immense pride toward USD and those who so generously gave to the Challenge,” Tom Mulvaney said. “We all collectively recognize that giving to others, helping others both inside and outside the USD community … gives one purpose and is a true marker of a successful life.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Learn more about giving to USD and how your gift can make a difference.