The Q & A With Campus Partners series is designed to connect faculty with personnel and offices on campus in order to better serve Belmont’s students. This installment features Tim Stewart from the Office of Service-Learning.
What is your title and how long have you been at Belmont?
I am the Director of the Office of Service-Learning and I have been at Belmont since October, 1994.
What brought you to Belmont?
For the first seven years of my time at Belmont, I worked as Coordinator of Volunteer Services while being employed by the YMCA of Middle TN as their Student YMCA and International Director. After some reorganization of the space I was using at a previous campus necessitated finding a new space to work, I approached Belmont with the idea of coming here to help coordinate volunteer opportunities for students. The timing couldn’t have been better as the University had just begun the Convocation program that required students to do community service in order to graduate. When the opportunity arose in 2002 for me to come onboard as an employee of Belmont, adding the responsibilities of Assistant Director of International Education, I was thrilled to be able to continue serving Belmont in new and expanded ways.
What do you do in your role as Director of the Office of Service-Learning?
I work to connect Students, Faculty and Staff to the community in ways that meet both the learning objectives for our students and the needs of the community. I also collaborate with other offices and departments on campus such as Career Development, Community Relations, University Ministries and Student Affairs to give our students additional opportunities to learn and serve outside the classroom.
How does your office serve Belmont’s students?
Our office serves as a conduit between the campus and our students, helping our students meet their needs and desires for serving others while at the same time, helping agencies in our community meet vital community needs. We host and/or facilitate volunteer fairs, regular Days of Service such as SERVE Day, MLK Joint Day of Service and Family Literacy Day, publish bi-weekly newsletters of volunteer needs in the community and maintain the Get Connected online platform that helps to connect the Belmont campus to more than 135 agencies in the community.
In what ways do (or can) faculty partner with your office?
Belmont faculty partner with me to design and implement service-learning components for their classes and students. With over 20 years’ experience with service-learning in the community, I can help faculty identify ways to incorporate service into their learning objectives, find suitable community partners, support them and their students through the service experience and help them develop reflection activities to tie the service and learning together.
What would you like faculty to know about the Office of Service-Learning?
While incorporating service-learning into a class requires some extra effort, most faculty and students who participate in it feel it is worth the effort. Seeing your students make the connections with the things you’re trying to teach them, while at the same time, building their confidence and helping them help make our community a better place for us all is very rewarding. The Office of Service-Learning stands ready to help you make it happen!
You can find more information on the Office of Service-Learning here.