By SARAH HAMPTON
Dr. Leslie Martin has recently accepted the position of Faculty Director at the Center for Community Engagement.
“When President Paino laid out his strategic vision for UMW, including community and civic engagement – I saw such an opportunity to engage even more fully in this work. The Center provides an opportunity to bring others on this journey too,” said Martin.
Dr. Martin has been a faculty member for over 10 years at UMW. Formerly, she was Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and an Associate Professor of Sociology. In 2013, Martin spearheaded an initiative to raise money to provide permanent housing for local homeless families. She helped the UMW community raise over $3,500.
“I have been concerned my whole life with working against inequality in injustice. It feels so fundamentally unfair, and harms people in such complicated ways,” said Martin.
Martin foresees the Center becoming a place where the passions and skills of students, faculty, staff and community members can be brought together to better our communities. Her first task is to solidify the relationships that are already established in the local community.
“We want to make sure we are well-supporting all of the amazing work UMW students, faculty and staff are already doing with community partners,” she said.
Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) falls under the umbrella of the Center for Community Engagement. COAR is a student-run entity that sponsors multiple weekly and annual events to serve and better the Fredericksburg area. Senior Anika Hussain is a studio art major in the education program. Hussain is the COAR Student Director and is excited about Dr. Martin’s new position.
“I believe Dr. Martin strongly values COAR’s commitment to giving back. Hence, I think she will be a positive push in our continued growth and development,” Hussain said. “I also believe she has the ability to help create a more unified department of service, under the Center for Community Engagement, to bring together all service-oriented groups on campus,” she said.
Senior Jordan Chandler is a geography major and staff member of COAR. She is also the co-leader for Therapeutic Horseback Riding, one of the many outreach programs COAR offers.
“I hope that Dr. Martin will be able to make COAR, as well as the Center for Community Engagement, well known on campus. I wish more students know about all of the volunteer opportunities COAR has to offer,” Chandler said.
Chandler continued, “There are so many opportunities to become involved in the community and make personal connections with those who are at our weekly and annual programs.”
As well as COAR, the Center for Community Engagement also manages civic engagement activities that are geared towards voter participation, education on social issues and activism. Martin said the Center’s biggest challenge is pacing themselves.
“There are a lot of really exciting opportunities – and super motivated people. But we want to make sure we have the capacity to support the efforts we commit to,” she said.
In her new role as Director, Martin is certain to bring changes to the Center for Community Engagement. She said that one thing that will not change is her love for UMW.
“I love teaching and advising and being able to work closely with students, to help them define and achieve their goals. Our size and our liberal arts mission make developing these relationships possible- and super fulfilling,” she said.