In the 13 years that Laurie Laird ’87 has devoted to community-based learning at SCU, she has affected the lives of more than 10,000 students. Her efforts as associate director of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education have been key in the creation of strong and sustainable partnerships between the University and more than 60 community organizations in the South Bay. For students, those partnerships pay dividends short-term—in illuminating the world in new ways—and, Laird hopes, for years and decades to come.
This year, that work brought some special recognition to Laird herself—with expectations that her efforts will serve as a model for staff at universities throughout the Golden State. In February, California Campus Compact (CCC) awarded her the 2011 Richard E. Cone Award for Excellence & Leadership in Cultivating Community Partnerships in Higher Education. A coalition of leading colleges and universities, CCC established the award in 1999 to inspire institutions to deepen their efforts to create and sustain authentic community campus partnerships.
Laird says she is honored to receive the award, but she is quick to point out that it actually recognizes the labor done by many hands. “A partnership is never one person,” she says. “It is together that we’re transforming relationships in our community and bringing about real, positive social change.”
Among her accomplishments, Laird founded and co-directs the Jean Donovan Summer Fellowship Program, which provides grants for undergraduate students for summer community-based social justice work. She also leads a delegation of faculty and staff on an immersion trip to El Salvador each year. Emily Elrod ’05