Executive Summary

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside seeks to live the Wisconsin Idea as an authentic community partner and steward of place as well as an effective laboratory for its students to learn through community engagement. By signing the Campus Compact Civic Action Statement in November 2015, Chancellor Deborah Ford pledged to develop a plan that deepens and strengthens the campus commitment to community engagement and provides guidance for implementation of action steps to do so. The plan was created through the efforts of a team of faculty, staff, administrators, and community partners who collected input and feedback during 2016. This included focus groups, facilitated discussions, and surveys of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

As part of the University of Wisconsin System, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside is grounded in its commitment to the public purposes of higher education.

"The expansive community engagement efforts of UW-Parkside are guided by a strong vision of reciprocal partnerships among the university and many communities of southeastern Wisconsin. This vision calls for the university to engage the people, organizations, and businesses on its campus, in the region, and in the world by being a nucleus of community engagement and life-long education. A fully engaged university is not only a vision at UW-Parkside, but is also a central value expressed in the mission and the guiding principle known as the Wisconsin Idea." - UW-Parkside's Higher Learning Commission Self Study, 2013

Over the last thirty years, UW-Parkside has created infrastructure to ensure that it is an authentic partner  with the community as well as an effective laboratory for its students to learn through community engagement. The Alan E. Guskin Center for Community and Business Engagement provides resources to build capacity in regional nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies through matching them to community-based learning projects and research conducted by students and faculty as well as to student interns. Preparing civic-minded professionals for the workforce is not limited to college students as the Guskin Center also serves the facilitator of Leadership Kenosha, a community leadership program for individuals from the business, government, nonprofit and education sectors. The Small Business Development Center and Solutions for Economic Growth (SEG) Center provide additional resources for businesses. The App Factory and GIS Factory also connect the community organizations to student work that supports their goals. The University also helps to build community capacity through a network of faculty, staff, and students who serve on community boards and committees. The Office of Student Activities oversees student organizations which often engage in service activities in the community. The Advising and Career Center builds relationships with local and regional employers, connecting them with their future workforce. In addition, many other departments on campus engage in regular partnerships that support the community in a variety of ways.

UW-Parkside is a member of Campus Compact, a national network of organizations that promotes community engagement and civic action on college and university campuses. In 2015, Campus Compact urged the presidents and chancellors of its member institutions to sign a pledge that committed their institutions to develop a plan in the following year. Over 450 Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors signed the pledge, including UW-Parkside Chancellor Deborah Ford. As one of the early signers of the pledge, Chancellor Ford recognized the opportunity to strengthen the campus' role as a steward of place and build increased capacity for community engagement for the benefit of the students and the local, regional, and global communities. 

UW-Parkside's Civic Action Plan will broaden and deepen its work by realizing the five commitments from the Campus Compact Civic Action Statement signed by Chancellor Ford. UW-Parkside has pledged the following:

UW-Parkside's Civic Action Plan will broaden and deepen its work by realizing the five commitments from the Campus Compact Civic Action Statement signed by Chancellor Ford. UW-Parkside has pledged the following:

  • We empower our students, faculty, staff, and community partners to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.
  • We prepare our students for lives of engaged citizenship, with the motivation and capacity to deliberate, act, and lead in pursuit of the public good.
  • We embrace our responsibilities as place-based institutions, contributing to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically.
  • We harness the capacity of our institutions—through research, teaching, partnerships, and institutional practice—to challenge the prevailing social and economic inequalities that threaten our democratic future.
  • We foster an environment that consistently affirms the centrality of the public purposes of higher education by setting high expectations for members of the campus community to contribute to their achievement.
  • These commitments are neither a checklist nor a menu of options. They are guideposts to developing an integrated and comprehensive approach to achieving the public purpose of higher education. In 2016, UW-Parkside Civic Action Planning Committee created a set of high level goals linked to the five commitments.

Below are our goals and how they tie to the commitments:


Prepare UW-Parkside graduates to be fully knowledgeable, active citizens committed to on-going engagement with the campus, local and global communities.

With this goal, UW-Parkside is empowering and preparing our students to conduct lives as engaged citizens. UW-Parkside also embraces its responsibility to contribute to the health of its communities.


Be a campus that is an active citizen and authentic partner in improving the economic, social, political and cultural life of its local, regional and global communities.

With this goal, UW-Parkside makes a stronger commitment to harness its capacity to improve itscommunities by setting high expectations for students, faculty, and staff to engage with them. It will also help  foster an environment that affirms the centrality of the public purposes of higher education and embraces its responsibilities as a place-based institution to contribute to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically.


Build and sustain a culture that appreciates, fosters, and supports a diverse, inclusive campus and regional community (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age and nationality).

This goal will help prepare and empower our students to live lives of engaged citizenship in which they support and appreciate a diverse, inclusive community. It will also harness the university's potential to lead by example and challenge the prevailing social and economic inequities that threaten our democratic future.

To ensure that we heard from across campus as well as the community in developing this plan, a Civic Action Planning Team was formed with representation from across campus as well as from the community.

Civic Action Planning Team

  • Fay Akindes, Community-Based Learning and Research Faculty Director/Professor, College of Arts and Humanities
  • Aaron Carlstrom, Professor, College of Natural and Health Sciences
  • Amanda DesLauriers, Community Engagement Specialist, Office of Community Engagement
  • Rob Ducoffe, Provost
  • Michele Gee, Associate Dean, College of Business, Economics and Computing
  • Peggy James, Interim Dean, College of Social Science and Professional Studies
  • Debra Karp, Community Engagement Director, Office of Continuing Education and Community Engagement
  • DeAnn Possehl, Executive Director of Persistence and Completion
  • Tammy McGuckin, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services
  • Tedi Winnett, Director, UW-Extension Cooperative Extension, Community Partner
  • Timothy Kruger, Student
  • Andre Holland, Student

(Participant titles were current as of convening date.)

In August 2016, eight planning team members attended a two-day workshop hosted by Wisconsin Campus Compact which revolved around crafting the plan. The workshop consisted of presentations, dissemination of resources and opportunities to discuss with representatives from other universities and colleges. After this initial workshop, regular bi-weekly meetings were set. A major task the committee set for itself before drafting the three goals that make up the bulk of the plan was to gather ideas, opinions and information from more people both on campus and in the community. Representatives from the group presented on the Civic Action planning process to Parkside Student Government to encourage anyone who was interested to participate. After this presentation, two students (listed above) joined the committee. The information gathering activities included the following:

All Advisory Boards Meeting

On September 26, 2016, UW-Parkside held an All Boards Meeting. Organized by the Talent and Economic Development (TED) Committee, the purpose of the event was to bring together representatives of the university's many community advisory boards to engage them in exploring how to prepare UW-Parkside students for success in the 21st Century. Attended by approximately sixty people, the event featured a keynote presentation by UW-Parkside alumna Rebekah Kowalski, Vice President for Right Management North America, and talent strategist of the landscape of the 21st century workforce. The goals of the event were to generate enthusiasm and ideas for the ways in which Advisory Board members can contribute to enhanced student success, and to use suggestions gathered as a springboard for discussion, planning and action. Many of the ideas generated in this planning session were relevant to the Civic Action commitments and were incorporated into the Civic Action Plan.

Attendees of the All Board meeting comprised community representatives serving on the following boards: Alumni Association, College of Arts and Humanities, College of Business, Economics and Computing, College of Natural and Health Sciences, Community Engagement, Continuing Education, College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies, Information Technology Practice Center (ITPC), and the UW-Parkside Foundation.

Student and Community Partner Focus Groups

At the beginning of the 2016 fall semester, the Civic Action Planning Committee enlisted the help of Sociology professor Dr. Helen Rosenberg and her students in a community based learning project to conduct three focus groups with various groups of people. These included students who were highly engaged in the community, a random group of students who were not necessarily identified as engaged and a group of dedicated community partners. The focus groups used different scenarios to foster a conversation about what each party considered the university's role in the community and how they recommended enhancing and deepening this role. The results from these groups was compiled into a report by the students and delivered to the committee, which then incorporated the results into their planning process.

Community Engagement Council Focus Group

On January 26, 2017, Kenosha County UW-Extension's Tedi Winnett (also the community partner representative on the planning committee), organized a workshop to get feedback from the Community Engagement Advisory Council, which advises the UW-Parkside Office of Community Engagement. The Advisory Council is made up representatives of regional nonprofit and government organizations, with ties to UW-Parkside. This activity provided these individuals with the opportunity to share their ideas on how the university could achieve its Civic Action goals, and how and where they would like to see partnerships develop to achieve greater impact. As with the other focus groups, this information was compiled into a report and shared with the Civic Action Planning Committee.

After crafting the goals and corresponding high-level objectives, based on both the Campus Compact Action Statements and the feedback from the various focus groups, a draft of the goals was presented to the University Committee, the governing body of the Faculty Senate for preliminary feedback. The Civic Action team sent out a brief survey to the entire campus. Students, staff, and faculty were sent the survey that asked them to rank whether they thought each goal of the plan was not important, somewhat important or extremely important. 95% responded that they believed Goal 1 was either somewhat or extremely important. Goal 2 was considered somewhat or extremely important by 96% of respondents. And Goal 3 came in with 95% of respondents believing it was somewhat or extremely important. The survey, which was completed by 136 respondents (3% of total campus population—1% of students, 20% of faculty and instructional staff, and 8% other staff.) Of the respondents 40% were students, 29% were faculty/instructors and 31% were other staff. Campus staff, faculty and students were then given an opportunity to comment on how ingrained they thought each goal was already at the university, share any ideas that had to deepen the work we do to address a particular issue and volunteer to help implement the goal in the future.

The following three goals were developed and related objectives and metrics are defined each year.


Prepare UW-Parkside graduates to be fully knowledgeable, active citizens committed to on-going engagement with the campus, local and global communities.

Student helping at a vote everywhere table


Be a campus that is an active citizen and authentic partner in improving the economic, social, political and cultural life of its local, regional, and global communities. 

Image of student holding art next to her mural


Build and sustain a culture that appreciates, fosters, and supports a diverse, inclusive campus and regional community. 


Deanna Singh speaks with guests at the 2022 Nonprofit Breakfast.

These goals, objectives, and metrics provide guidance for implementation strategies. This plan is a continuously evolving document. 


In November, 2015, Chancellor Deborah Ford signed the Campus Compact 30th Anniversary Action Statement on behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, including a pledge to develop a campus Civic Action Plan. The purpose of this plan was to find ways to better support community-engaged work, increase inclusion, and strengthen civic-mindedness among students. Chancellor Ford tapped the Alan E. Guskin Center for Community and Business Engagement to spearhead the initiative. A team comprising faculty, staff, students and community partners met regularly for over a year to synthesize input gathered from individuals from across the campus and local region and develop a plan, which was finalized in spring of 2017.

Over the past five years, UW-Parkside has made great strides in creating infrastructure to support and institutionalize civic engagement, equity, and inclusion. Major accomplishments are organized in relation to the three broad goals of the Civic Action Plan.


Prepare UW-Parkside graduates to be fully knowledgeable, active citizens committed to ongoing engagement with the campus, local, and global communities.

To increase quality of learning and other outcomes, UW-Parkside defined standards for community-based learning course designation and established the CBL Faculty Steering Committee to review proposed courses. The CBL Faculty Steering Committee was established in Spring 2018 with representation from two members from each College. Under the leadership of Dr. Penny Lyter, Faculty Director for Community Based Learning and Research, criteria for designation were created and the designation process was established in 2019. New university funding allowed the Guskin Center to award faculty and instructors who complete an assessment of their CBL course to receive a $500 stipend in recognition of the extra work it takes to teach a quality CBL course.

  • 2019-2020 academic year- 40 CBL courses were designated
  • 2020-2021 academic year- 9 CBL courses were designated           
  • 2021-2022 academic year-13 CBL courses were designated

With a funding allocation from the University, the summer CBL workshop began in 2016 to help faculty develop high-quality, equitable experiences for their students and partners. Each summer 7-9 faculty members participated. A total of 56 faculty have participated since 2016. In 2019, the professional development was extended throughout the academic year to expand participants’ understanding of CBL. Participants engage in readings, discussions, guided reflections, walking tours of Kenosha and Racine, and presentations by CBL educators, students, and community leaders. Working with a community partner, participants develop a CBL course that addresses both academic learning objectives and community goals.

The Guskin Center and the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies began a partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation to champion voting and civic education among students. The Andrew Goodman Foundation works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy. Since 2020, the university has employed a group of two-to-four students to lead efforts to increase voter awareness and accessibility. These diverse students leverage their networks to increase civic engagement among the Parkside student population.

In the fall of 2016 and 2020, the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies led a campus-wide Election Experience for students, community members, and staff during the presidential election season. The experience includes a for-credit course as well as a series of presentations, discussions, debate-watch parties and other activities designed to foster an informed campus and community electorate and to get out the vote. In 2016, UW-Parkside student voter turn-out was significantly higher than the national average according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) UW-Parkside received the Platinum Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement from the ALL IN Democracy Challenge for the midterm elections in 2018. In 2020, UW-Parkside students increased their voting rate by 5.5% over the 2016 elections. The participation rates of African American and Hispanic students at UW- Parkside increased by 7% and 6% respectively. With this increase, we have begun to close the equity gap in voting that exists between non-white and white populations.


Be a campus that is an active citizen and authentic partner in improving the economic, social, political, and cultural life of its local, regional, and global communities.

In partnership with regional nonprofits that are members of the national Strive Together collective impact network (e.g., Building Our Future - Kenosha, and Higher Expectations - Racine), UW-Parkside implemented student success recommendations from the 2017-2020 campus Academic Plan, which align with the goals of Strive Together initiatives. UW-Parkside provided a shared executive-level staff position as well as technical expertise in project management, data analysis, and collective action through a loaned executive, participation on various committees, and via CBL courses, faculty research, and student interns.

As part of the Academic Plan, the campus developed and has implemented a number of specific strategies to improve student retention and graduation outcomes. Strategies include new faculty development, curriculum revisions in math, creation of meta majors and proactive advising, creation of a Promise program and first year experience and career development courses.

The loaned executive from UW-Parkside continues to engage with local Strive Together organizations across the K-20 continuum and leads the Lumina Talent Hub partnership in the region. This student success work has expanded to include the broader Milwaukee-7 region through the Higher Education Regional Alliance, an alliance of 18 public, private, four- and two-year higher education institutions and other non-profits.  In 2022, UW-Parkside was recognized for increasing the number of graduates and graduation rates with the Innovation Award in Student Success and College Completion by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

In 2017, UW-Parkside began a partnership with the Kenosha Chamber of Commerce to facilitate Leadership Kenosha, a professional development program that connects participants to community organizations, issues, and leaders, building their network while developing essential leadership skills. Staff at the Guskin Center design and implement monthly day-long programs which explore various sectors of the community for a cohort of 15-to-20 emerging and established community leaders each year.

The Center for Research in Innovation and Smart Cities was established in 2021 to position the university as a “thinking and strategic planning arm” of regional government, strengthen UW-Parkside’s leadership role in the region, and to convene leaders from faculty, higher education, business, healthcare, government, and civic groups. Through regional partnerships, the Center is developing a research and training agenda that emphasizes applied study to further economic development, increase equitable and inclusive access to community opportunities, and support innovation to increase civic and community engagement. The Center is aligned with UW System’s strategic aims to encourage innovation through basic and applied research, and expand connections with employers to better respond to workforce needs.


Build and sustain a culture that appreciates, fosters, and supports a diverse, inclusive campus and regional community (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, and nationality)

In 2018 UW-Parkside re-instituted its spring and summer diversity workshops for faculty and staff. Summer Institute II: Creating an Anti-Racist Classroom through Teaching and Learning is now offered every year for faculty members.  In 2018, 12 faculty and staff attended a NASH Workshop in November-Equity-Mindedness, Analyzing Data with a Focus on Achievement gaps and thirteen attended a Transparency Webinar.

In 2020, the University renamed its Teaching and Learning Center to the Center for Excellence in Inclusive Teaching and Learning and revised its mission to focus on inclusive learning practices. The idea is to weave equity-minded practices into all professional development for UW-Parkside faculty.

UW-Parkside joined the nation’s first regional consortium of colleges and universities to commit to “Moon Shot for Equity,” a new national initiative that aims to close equity gaps in higher education by 2030. Carthage College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside announced the partnership in a joint statement in the fall of 2020. The four institutions are working together and with education firm EAB to help more students of color and other historically underserved populations graduate from college. In addition to offering an extensive series on EDI in higher education for faculty and staff during the 2021-22 academic year, the Moonshot for Equity initiative analyzes and addresses practices and policies that prevent marginalized student belonging, retention and graduation

UW-Parkside responded to the growing regional Latinx community and is currently recognized as an Emerging HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution). With an 18% Hispanic student population, it is currently the first public four-year university in Wisconsin to be recognized as such. Through various initiatives, including our annual visit programs such as Descubre Parkside, Yo Soy Parkside, and Hispanic Heritage Month, we continue to build community and open spaces to discuss higher education, student advocacy and celebrate culture. An example of a project that engaged our community in various areas of support and outreach was Parkside Presente, a Spanish-language podcast produced by the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies. The podcast focused on individual stories and testimonies of the uncertain times of the pandemic and slowly transitioned to cover community and event highlights.

In 2018, UW-Parkside added a position in the Guskin Center, now called Experiential Education Specialist, to address inequities in access to internships, a key experience leading to post-graduation employment. While working to increase paid internship opportunities for students, staff also worked to identify alternative high-impact experiences that provide the development of NACE competencies in students. These include training student employee supervisors in campus employment as a high-impact practice and increasing student employee wages. In addition, a course piloted in 2022, Work-Based Learning, allows students to reflect on their current jobs to identify, develop and discuss their workplace skills. The Experiential Education Specialist has championed the creation of a training on recognizing and addressing workplace sexual harassment and micro-aggressions in off-campus CBL and internship experiences.

Established in 2021 to serve DACA-mented and undocumented students, the Undocumented Student Resources Committee is providing resources, training, and equitable opportunities to this student population so they feel a sense of belonging on our campus and can find success in their college and career journey. The committee has worked closely with university leadership to draft and adopt a statement of support that affirms Parkside’s commitment to welcoming, supporting, and standing in solidarity with our undocumented students, including those with and without the protections of DACA. The Undocumented Student Resources Committee is committed to: 

  • Maintaining the central resource hub, uwp.edu/dreamers 
  • Offering training to students, faculty, and staff regarding the DACA/undocumented student experience, how to be an ally to this community and legal considerations 
  • Promoting and facilitating focused programming 
  • Further identifying potential barriers and developing strategies and policies to address them 
  • Cultivating and maintaining the DREAMers Support Team 

UW-Parkside’s community engagement and continuing education departments have a long history of providing capacity building professional development for local nonprofit leaders. While equity in the workplace has been a frequent topic, in 2021 and 2022, the theme of equity and inclusion was fully embraced. The 2021 Nonprofit Leadership conference theme was “Be the Inclusive Organization You Envision” and featured keynote speaker, Dr. Undraye Howard, Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement for Social Current. Breakout sessions included topics such as equity in fund development, program outcomes, data analysis, and presentation, as well as equity in hiring and retention of staff in the nonprofit sector.
In response to requests for more on inclusion topics on evaluation surveys from community members who attended the event, the Guskin Center brought inclusion expert Deanna Singh to present at its 2022 Nonprofit Breakfast and purchased 100 copies of her book, Actions Speak Louder: A Step-by-Step Guide to an Inclusive Workplace, which were given to breakfast attendees. In the summer/fall of 2022, the Guskin Center facilitated a virtual book group of community members and then held another event, A Morning with Deanna Singh, in October, which was attended by both community members and Parkside staff and students.

Established in 2020, the EDI office is committed to working with administration, faculty, staff, and students to examine and eradicate historical policies and practices that have perpetuated systemic inequities and to develop a holistic plan of action to create an environment where the members of our campus community will receive a high-quality education, live, grow, work and thrive. In September of 2020, the university added a Diversity and Inclusion Manager to spearhead this work.

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Council comprises a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students across campus who provide advice and consultation to the Chancellor’s Cabinet from an equity perspective on policies, programs, and initiatives. The group of faculty and staff serve as an avenue for members of the university community to elevate equity and inclusion concerns. The Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (SEDI) Advisory Council is an integral part of creating a more inclusive and welcoming climate for students at UW-Parkside. The group provides support in reviewing existing practices, advocates for change, and provides a platform for students to voice concerns.

In an effort to embed justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into all areas of the institution, the current plans for the Office of EDI are integrated with the Academic and Student Affairs Plan 2025 (ASAP 25). 


The Civic Action Plan committee took a hiatus from regular meetings in the fall of 2022 as we assess our work and set priorities for the coming five years. The initiatives and programs launched and enhanced through the first five years of the Civic Action Plan will continue to be developed.

Now, more institutionalized, much of the work of Goal 3 now is led by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the EDI Council, and the Student EDI Council, both established in 2020.

Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification
Campus Compact - Campus in Action - Civic Action Planning Initiative
The Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
Scroll to top