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IU South Bend Appoints Elizabeth Bennion Director of Community Engagement

Jan 30, 2023

Elizabeth Bennion Indiana University South Bend has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Bennion to serve as director of community engagement. In her new role Bennion, who is Chancellor’s Professor of Political Science, will promote community internships, volunteerism, university-community partnerships and community-based teaching and research, while seeking ways to recognize and reward community-engaged work at IU South Bend.

IU South Bend encourages all members of the campus to get involved in community service. Faculty also get their classes involved in public service through community-engaged learning. Students in Dr. Mohammad Merhi’s Database Management Systems course form groups to design and create a database system for a local business, addressing redundancies and inefficiencies in the company’s existing databases. Similarly, students in Kim McInerney’s public relations class develop PR campaigns for local non-profit agencies, and students in Dr. Larry Bennett’s social work courses conduct program evaluations for local service agencies. Such projects give students an opportunity to apply what they are learning in a real-world setting while helping small businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the community.

Faculty also supervise community-based research. For example, students in Dr. Deb Marr’s biology class worked with the Elkhart Public Works Office to record data on fish species in the St. Joseph River, to provide information on water quality and the health of the fish population. Master of Liberal Studies graduate student Anna Ortega worked with Dr. Monica Tetzlaff and La Cases de Amistad to prepare for a celebration opening the Dolores Huerta Pavilion within Pulaski Park in South Bend. Meanwhile, students in Dr. Anne Magnan-Park’s French class and Dr. Tammy Fong-Morgan’s Spanish classes translate books and donate them to local refugee and immigrant children.

Bennion’s new role will allow her to support and celebrate the work of colleagues and community partners who work year-round to meet community-defined needs and to leverage community assets. She will build on the work of sociology professor Gail McGuire who served as the campus’s first Director of Community Engagement from August 2019 – August 2022.

“I look forward to supporting the work of my dedicated colleagues whose community-engaged teaching, research, and service is transforming our campus and community,” said Bennion.

“Elizabeth is a nationally recognized expert on civic education and political engagement and given her expertise and enthusiasm for engagement, I am most pleased that she accepted the position as director of community engagement,” said Doug McMillen, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at IU South Bend. “Her leadership in this role will have a significant and positive impact on our campus and broader community.”

Bennion will continue her role as founding director of IU South Bend’s American Democracy Project and her community leadership as director of voter services and education for the League of Women Voters of the South Bend Area, president of the Indiana Debate Commission, and host of WNIT’s (PBS) live weekly television program Politically Speaking.

More information about Dr. Bennion is available here.

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Kevin L. Ladd and Carolyn Schult
IU South Bend  
IU South Bend