Marybeth Lima to Serve as Director of LSU’s CCELL Program

Hopes to Continue Work of Pioneering Predecessor Jan Shoemaker


Community engagement has always been a central part of the mission of LSU, but in the past decade, service-learning, or a method of teaching and learning in which students fulfill the learning goals of their academic courses while serving the community, has become an increased focus of the university.

The organization that has led the charge, the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL, recently announced a change in leadership, with Marybeth Lima named as the program director to succeed the retiring Jan Shoemaker.

“I am delighted with the selection of Marybeth Lima,” said Shoemaker. “Since the ‘90s Marybeth has brought national distinction to CCELL and LSU through her service-learning classes and engaged scholarship. She has significant publications in the field, has delivered keynote addresses at conferences, and has conducted many faculty development workshops around the country.”

Lima, alumni professor of biological and agricultural engineering and American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering fellow, is already a nationally recognized service-learning practitioner. Since 1998, Lima has engaged more than 500 students in a first-year, biological engineering design course in which students address a critical community need through the design of safe, accessible playgrounds for area children. Under the LSU Community Playground Project, Lima and her students have designed and built 20 playgrounds in the Baton Rouge area. She joined the LSU faculty in 1996 as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 2007. She is considered a leading expert in service-learning pedagogy.

“As the new director of CCELL, I am excited about facilitating the outstanding work of LSU faculty, staff, students and community partners who are engaged in serving our communities,” said Lima. ”The scholarship of engagement is a critical part of the LSU mission and the Flagship Agenda. I believe that in the next decade, LSU will continue its work with community partners to address critical social, educational, environmental and economic issues important to our state.”

Lima has long considered Shoemaker a mentor and influence, even dedicating her book “The Future of Service-Learning,” which was published in August of 2009, to Shoemaker.

“During the past 15 years, Jan Shoemaker’s work with faculty, staff, and students has transformed LSU into one of the nation’s leading universities in service-learning and community engagement,” said Lima. ”I credit Jan’s tutelage with my career success using the scholarship of engagement. It is an honor to step into a position that will enable me to support the efforts of others in the way that Jan and CCELL have supported me.”

Shoemaker has facilitated LSU service-learning in several different capacities since her arrival at the university in 1995. As a faculty member in the English department, she taught service-learning classes for six years while serving as academic coordinator of the LSU service-learning office. In 2001, she oversaw the development of the Faculty Scholars program, which offers faculty incentive grants to develop or enhance service-learning classes. The service-learning office continued to grow under Shoemaker’s leadership, until the formal establishment of CCELL by the LSU Board of Supervisors in 2003.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my children and their families, and pursuing other personal interests,” said Shoemaker. “I am thrilled with LSU’s renewed commitment to civic engagement as put forth in the new Flagship Agenda, and while I’d like to be part of LSU’s next decade of civic renewal, I also feel that fresh ideas and new leadership will provide energy and vision to take LSU to the next level of civic engagement.”

Under Shoemaker’s leadership, service-learning has grown from a few isolated sections of service-learning in the early ‘90s to approximately 175 sections each year representing more than 40 departments and involving 2,800 students. LSU and CCELL have been nationally recognized for civic engagement activities. In 2009, Shoemaker compiled and submitted LSU’s successful application for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. LSU is one of only 194 institutions in the nation to receive this designation. This year, representatives from LSU nearly swept the award categories at the 2010 Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning, winning four out of the six awards, including Shoemaker’s Outstanding Service-Learning Practitioner Award. LSU has been on the President’s Community Service Honor Roll since its inception and was one of only six universities nationwide to receive the 2006 President’s Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service following Hurricane Katrina. CCELL received the American Association of University Administrators Outstanding Model Award in 2004.

Shoemaker also helped serve as an architect of “LSU Serves the World,” a signature activity of the LSU sesquicentennial celebration, which was launched to honor the university’s land-grant mission, flagship position, military heritage, and history of service and civic outreach.

“I am deeply, deeply grateful to all of the many CCELL colleagues and friends for their support over the years,” said Shoemaker. ”I have often said that I have had the best job possible because I work with the best people anywhere, both on and off campus.”

LSU Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Stacia Haynie notes that Shoemaker will be missed by many on campus.

“Jan has been a tireless advocate of service-learning for LSU,” Haynie said. “Under her leadership, the program has grown from a handful of sections to more than 170 annually involving 85 faculty members and every college on the campus.

“I’m also thrilled that Marybeth has agreed to serve as CCELL director,” she added. “Her knowledge and expertise as a nationally recognized service-learning practitioner make her a perfect fit for this position. And, I know that, like Jan, she is dedicated to providing students with unique learning opportunities and is committed to the broader university vision for community engagement.”

Billy Gomila | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
June 2010