ECU professor honored for excellence in service-learning
By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
North Carolina Campus Compact, a coalition of 38 public and private colleges and universities, has named an East Carolina University professor as the recipient of the 2013 Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award.
Dr. Rebecca Dumlao, an associate professor in ECU’s School of Communication, is the first from ECU to receive the award. She was honored at the compact’s annual civic and community engagement conference Feb. 13.
The Sigmon Award recognizes a faculty member for significant contributions to the practice of service-learning, a teaching strategy that links community service to classroom study and reflection. The award is named for North Carolina native Robert Sigmon, who helped pioneer the approach in the 1970s.
“I believe that service-learning is one of the most important ways we can equip students to be leaders and actively engaged as citizens in their communities after they graduate,” Dumlao said.
Students pair academic course work with community-based experiences, and articulate what they learn. “It’s a way to bring student service and community engagement into the classroom,” she said.
Dumlao has led service-learning efforts at ECU and beyond for more than a decade, chairing the university’s service-learning committee to support course design and faculty development, serving as editor of book reviews for Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, and integrating service-learning into the communication curriculum.
The School of Communication’s required capstone course now includes a service-learning project. Since 2001, more than 1,600 students have completed the course, contributing more than 18,000 hours of service locally. Dumlao is working to develop a global service-learning program in Trinidad, West Indies, in conjunction with Amizade, a non-profit organization that provides service-learning and volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups.
One nominator said Dumlao is the “go-to person” for service-learning topics in the school, and a former student declared the capstone project “one of the most rewarding classes” at ECU.
Dumlao has worked at ECU for 15 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in home economics and early childhood education from Penn State University, a master’s in scientific and technical communication from Oregon State and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Dumlao received the award at the compact’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference at Elon University. More than 275 faculty, staff, students, and community partners across the state participated in the event.
Started in 2002, North Carolina Campus Compact builds the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically-engaged graduates and strengthen communities.