Volunteering at The University of Texas at Austin is nothing new. Since its establishment over a century ago, this institution has promoted community service as a means of forming well-rounded, responsible individuals. Before the creation of what is now known as the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement (LCCE), many people, departments, and student organizations within the university worked to provide volunteer opportunities to the UT student body.
In 1991, the Committee for the Enhancement of the Undergraduate Experience recommended the creation of a volunteer center that would serve to coordinate community service efforts by UT students. The new center would enhance the educational experience of students and instill “a sense of community through service” within the UT student body. Ms. Cheryl Wood, a former Senior Student Affairs Administrator at the Office of the Dean of Students, developed the new center and provided its initial leadership.
In 1992, with the support of President William H. Cunningham (1985-1992) and Student Body President Howard Nirken (1992-1993), the University Volunteer Center was created under the umbrella of the Campus Activities Office (currently, Student Activities and Leadership Development) at the Office of the Dean of Students. The UT Student Volunteer Board (SVB) was created in 1993 to give students the opportunity to organize and to lead service events that would benefit the community and the UT student body. Today, the SVB coordinates over 10 programs, recruiting over 4,500 volunteers per year from all academic disciplines.
In 1999, the University Volunteer Center supported a student group’s idea of creating a large-scale community service event. The Project has recruited over 1,500 volunteers each year since, creating a great impact in the community through the single-day service event, in addition to bringing the community closer together. With the help of UT faculty, staff, and students, as well as public and private agencies and businesses in the Austin area, The Project has become UT’s largest day of service.
Under the leadership of Mr. Glen Baumgart, Director from 1998-2010, the University Volunteer Center strived to strengthen the connection between academics and volunteerism. In the Spring of 2000 the Center incorporated a service learning component into its student programs, creating UT Students Enriching Education through Service (UT SEES). This student organization formed to promote and support service learning across all disciplines at UT from 2000-2003. To reflect the growing importance of this pedagogy, the Center became the Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC) in 2002, becoming an independent department within the Office of the Dean of Students.
In the fall of 2007, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center became part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. In 2013, the VSLC became the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement, a moniker that highlights its importance in encouraging engaged scholarship and collaborative partnerships among students, instructors, and community partners. Currently, the LCCE recruits over 6,000 UT student volunteers each year and partners with over 150 non-profits to develop ongoing volunteer opportunities for UT students. The Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement continues to grow and develop with the commitment that every UT student will have the opportunity to experience service to the community by the time they graduate.
We strive to be the central resource on campus for volunteerism, service learning, and community engagement resources.