Bethune-Cookman University’s commitment to Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is, in part, reflected in its official motto, “Enter to Learn … . Depart to Serve.” The University has a history of civic engagement, the spirit of service and outreach has been one of the institution’s guiding principles since its founding in 1904.
The University is proud to be known as a Periclean Institution of Higher Learning and has made a commitment to Project Pericles, Inc., an organization that was founded by its President and CEO, philanthropist, Mr. Eugene Lang. Our commitment is to educate students to become engaged, motivated citizens who are prepared to function in a democracy. Therefore, the undergraduate curriculum includes learning opportunities that promote social responsibility and participatory citizenship, in the classroom, on campus, and in the community. Through Project Pericles’ activities and programming, students are exposed to film series, debates, guest lecturers, petition drives, city commission meetings, political task force issues and initiatives, and a wealth of other citizen engagement opportunities.
In addition, each of the academic schools provide service learning activities that promote civic participation and social responsibility. For example, , the Professional Development School Partnership with Westside Elementary (grades K-5) and the School of Education is based on a shared vision and focus on collaborative initiatives that support the mission and strategic plans at both schools. As a partnership, faculty members, classroom teachers, and teacher candidates work together to continuously improve instruction, academic excellence, school culture, and build stronger community relationships. As another example, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in the School of Business provides free preparation of individual federal income tax returns for community residents and Bethune-Cookman University students.
The Bethune-Cookman University Odessa Chambliss Wellness Center functions to improve health literacy in order to decrease racial/ethnic disparities in illness, injury and death related to chronic diseases. Students matriculating through the Center learn that individuals can be empowered to make lifestyle changes that improve their health if they are given understandable, culturally sensitive information about health issues. In partnership with local health service institutions, students identify and develop strategies to address health disparities and the social determinants that impact health. The Center is an integral part of the University’s commitment to health equity, students learn that we all share responsibility to help our fellow citizens attain their full potential with no one being disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their race, ethnicity, gender or social position.
The University’s commitment to Civic Participation and Social Responsibility is not confined to the efforts and activities of its students. Faculty members, staff, and administrators are committed to the axiom that, “service is the price you pay for the space you take.” Therefore the entire Bethune-Cookman University family embraces Dr. Bethune’s command in her Last Will and Testament “We must spread out as far and as fast as we can, but we must also help each other as we go.”
Bethune-Cookman University has built a reputation as an emerging center for research, particularly in the areas of the natural and social sciences. External funds, derived from contracts and grants from private foundations, as well as local, state, and federal agencies, are used to support the research, and research opportunities for students and faculty members, and to improve research facilities.
Some of the significant research efforts involve the University’s service learning and civic engagement outreach programs, teaching and learning strategies, Computer Science and Nanotechnology, environmental science, health disparities among the African American and lower income communities, strategies to reduce juvenile delinquency, and instructional materials development in the basic skills, political activities, and sociological phenomena.
Modern Language Research is done in the University’s International Studies Abroad program; in International Business Languages and Cultures; in Foreign Language proficiency; and Foreign Language for Functional Uses in various career programs, such as Medical Personnel, Social Services, Business and Finance, as well as for Law Enforcement and teachers in multicultural classrooms.
Each academic school also requires their senior students to write a senior research paper. A faculty committee selects the best senior thesis paper from each school for publication in the Undergraduate Research Journal which is published by the University annually. The journal accomplishes the goals of showcasing graduating seniors and providing models of research and writing excellence for the larger student body.
Many of the University’s faculty and staff members have distinguished themselves through work in their various disciplines and are renowned in their fields. Faculty members are (a) listed in some of the most prestigious publications including, but not limited to, Who’s Who in American Education and Who’s Who in America. University faculty members are also recipients of numerous awards and citations, including “keys” to various cities. Faculty members hold memberships in such professional societies and organizations as Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Kappa Psi, Pi Lambda Theta, Phi Kappa Phi, and the American Chemical Society. Both faculty members and students present their research findings at state, national, and international meetings and conferences.