History of the Program

The Community Service Learning (CSL) Program, now Mulvaney Center, was formally inaugurated in 1994 by Judy Rauner, PhD, with support from a “Learn and Serve” grant from the Corporation for National Service. Today there are over 150 courses from departments throughout the university that incorporate a relevant community engagement component into classroom studies. Students reflect on their work in the community as a part of their curricula, and many have credited the program for creating personally transformational experiences while providing valuable services to their community. See full Center Timeline Here. 

While developing and directing the CSL Program, Judy Rauner obtained a doctorate in Educational Leadership at USD. Her dissertation, “The Impact of Community Service Learning on Student Development, as Perceived by Student Leaders,” was in support of her work with the CSL Program.  Student leaders in Dr. Rauner’s study changed their understanding of leadership, from the traditional top down approach to dimensions of leadership "as occurring when an individual engages and influences collaborators in reciprocal learning relationships to develop a mutual purpose and work together toward intended change" (Rauner, 1995). Common leadership skills exhibited by students participating in service learning included more effective communication, problem solving, and time management. Their perceptions of self and awareness of others expanded and certain stereotypes were confronted. Awareness of social issues, causes contributing to inequities, and the challenges that institutions have in addressing community needs became strong focuses. To learn more about Dr. Rauner and her work, click here.