USD's Nayve Receives Campus Compact's Nadinne Cruz Community Engagement Professional Award

Chris Nayve, associate vice president for community engagement and anchor initiatives at the University of San Diego, has been selected by the Campus Compact organization as one of its three winners of the 2020 Nadinne Cruz Community Engagement Professional Award.

This impactful award for Nayve, a triple USD alumnus (BA, JD, MBA) who leads the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action, celebrates the ethical leadership and advocacy demonstrated by community engagement professionals, according to Campus Compact, which serves a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.

“Nadinne Cruz is a friend and mentor to me for many, many years, so to receive an award that’s named after someone who whole-heartedly lives justice and equity and how academic institutions can more equally partner in justice-focused ways, I’m in awe,” Nayve said. “Secondly, I’m so appreciative of the team and people who put this together because the way I think about it is I’m just a representative of our collective work. This is a shared recognition. So many people on and off campus are committed to what it means to work on behalf of equity and justice. I’m excited to be a steward and a representative for the collective.”

Joining Nayve as Cruz award winners are Debra Gibes, faculty director of experiential learning at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, and Cynthia Orellana, director of the office of community partnerships at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Praise for Nayve

Upon learning that Nayve was chosen for the Cruz honor, Tom Mulvaney, a School of Law alumnus, a USD trustee and, along with his wife Karen, lead donors of USD’s main community engagement center, praised the recognition.

“This honor is well-deserved, Chris is a real gem,” Mulvaney said. “We are so fortunate to have him at USD. He’s a wonderful collaborator. He’s a smart, kind, strong, empathetic and caring individual. Over the last eight years, it has been a transformative experience for me to know him.”

Campus Compact’s award announcement stated Nayve’s selection was due to “his long-term commitment to advancing higher education community engagement locally, nationally and internationally. As leader of the University of San Diego’s anchor institution mission, Chris has helped position the university as a binational anchor institution. He has worked diligently to educate campus leaders to align procurement, hiring, and admissions practices, and other economic impact initiatives in ways that benefit local communities. More broadly, Chris has become widely recognized in the field of community engagement for his ability to forge new and long-term campus-community partnerships in the areas of housing, poverty, economic development, education, social justice, micro-finance, and diversity and inclusion.”

Nayve’s nomination was supported by Mulvaney Center staff, and letters of recommendation from USD President James T. Harris and USD alumna Emalyn Leppard, a STEAM Resource Teacher in the San Diego Unified School District. Each letter shared the many ways in which Nayve leads USD’s community engagement efforts.

One of the first ways to understand Nayve is through his leadership vision according to a letter from his Mulvaney Center staff.

“Chris’s democratic and reciprocal practices start with his most immediate team at USD, the Mulvaney Center staff. In 2017, Chris deliberately changed the center’s leadership structure to a more equitable one by elevating each team member to the position of director or assistant director in their specific area. His goal is to position each team member to lead their area of expertise regardless of seniority and with as much support and resources as possible. In this way, Chris advances equity and inclusion by starting with the team he supervises.”

The letter highlighted leadership work to elevate community partners as professors of practice and bring them to campus to co-teach courses and compensate them for their time and expertise as well as share their knowledge and scholarship with faculty members in Professional Learning Communities.

Among the many community partnerships Nayve has nurtured — beyond Linda Vista where USD’s campus resides — is in New Orleans. Starting in 2005, universities across the country visited the city to participate in reconstruction efforts post-Hurricane Katrina. Nayve, staff and students intentionally initiated meaningful and reciprocal partnership resulting in sustained engagement long after the immediate wake of Katrina.

He has also been a steady advocate for USD’s work and presence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Chris understands that for a university located in the border region, it is imperative for community to include our neighbors in Mexico,” the letter stated. “He challenges USD to adopt this thinking in the way it invests resources in the region. This is evident in the 2019 funding of a USD Tijuana Hub, a multipurpose space across the southern border that positions the university as a binational anchor institution.”

Purposeful Work in Linda Vista

President Harris’ praise of Nayve stems from his continuation of the excellent two decades-plus of foundational community engagement work by inaugural center director Judy Rauner and then Nayve’s predecessor, Elaine Elliott.

“Not only has Chris continued Judy’s legacy, he has taken community service learning and engagement to a whole new level as he continually explores the intersections of different approaches to social change,” Harris said.

A multitude of partnerships, programs and initiatives keeps Nayve and his staff busy year-round. “Today, USD’s course-based community engagement activities involve annually, approximately 130 faculty members from department and academic units across campus, more than 135 community partners and thousands of students,” Harris shared in his letter.

Leppard’s endorsement of Nayve focuses on his Linda Vista partnerships and pride he has in USD’s work within its immediate community.

One of Leppard’s cherished memories stems from her first meeting with Nayve in 1998. Nayve secured a $7,000 grant from the City of San Diego and organized a collaboration of Leppard’s middle school student and a local muralist to create a mural promoting youth literacy.

“That mural is still today a focal point in the shopping area next to the Linda Vista Library,” she remembered fondly. “The library mural is just one of the countless physical markers for which Linda Vista has Chris Nayve to thank.”

A two-year position in 1996 as a service-learning liaison to the Community Outreach Partnership Center — a U.S. Housing and Urban Development project — back while he was a student at USD gave him a platform to grow into the community leader he remains today, Leppard said.

His work at that time helped create programs for USD’s School of Law, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, USD School of Business and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

“His ability to connect university with community brought the community together,” she said. “Chris’ COPC experience formed the foundation of his passionate commitment to integrating various campus departments into a thriving partnership with the community to establish the anchor institution concept.”

Linda Vista, a three square-mile community where USD resides as well as some of the most colorfully cultural and most impoverished residents in San Diego, has been helped by Nayve, his staff, faculty and students through their work with tutoring programs, a nursing clinic, pre-school, elementary, middle and high school students and senior activities and so much more that has no signs of slowing down.

“I think what I find most valuable is his ability to remain humble and a true belief in the power of collaborative work. After all these years, the travel, accolades, speaking engagements and rise to a prestigious position within the university community, Chris is still at the table, sleeves rolled up, working to address ongoing issues and new problems as they arise,” Leppard said.

Indeed, Nayve's reach is not only what happens on campus — he was a leader on getting USD named as a Changemaker Campus and has most recently been helping to guide USD's civic action plan and has had a key role in the collective design and ongoing implementation of USD's strategic plan, Envisioning 2024, with regards to its anchor institution pathway.

Personal Pride

Nayve, who was born in the Philippines, is one of three deserving recipients of the Nadinne Cruz Award, but his reaction upon learning he’d received an award named for Cruz, a pioneering Filipina community engagement leader at Stanford and beyond, was one of personal pride.

“She’s someone who has influenced me my whole career,” Nayve said of Cruz. “Personally, it’s so meaningful, especially at a time when there were no Filipino/Filipina leaders in this work and there still are very few. She was the only one at that time. She was powerful then, and is powerful now.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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