On August 20, 2007 Christopher Newport President Paul Trible charged the university to “prepare every CNU student for leadership and civic responsibility…[and to] foster a campus culture that celebrates service.” 

In January 2009, a Center for Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship was officially established and the seeds of community engagement were planted among students, faculty, and community partners.

In May 2011, Center staff reviewed its focus and structure in an effort to measure progress toward institutionalizing service within the University. The review necessitated changes so pervasive that the name itself was changed to the Center for Community Engagement (CCE): a name that more fully encompassed the breadth and depth of our mission vision, programs, and service offerings.

Since that time, the CCE has:

  • Fostered and maintained strong, reciprocal relationships with over 100 local nonprofit, public school and government organizations.
  • Established Service Tracks to focus student service on the most pervasive issues affecting our communities and on the most at-risk, underserved populations. In 2020, the Center added a Civic Engagement & Social Action service track for students with an interest in voter rights, advocacy, working with social justice organizations, and planning and participating in social action. 
  • Designed a campus-wide Service Distinction Program to foster and recognize students performing committed and consistent service. Implemented in the 2013-2014 academic year, over 1,400 students have graduated with Service Distinction Honors to date and served just over 370,000 combined hours. In the past two years, one-third of the graduating class achieved these honors.
  • Joined the prestigious National Bonner Foundation to develop a successful Bonner Service Scholar Program with 10 Bonners per cohort, strong partnerships with 10 Bonner community partners that provide quality, capacity-building opportunities and impact, and community-driven capstone projects completed by all senior Bonners.
  • Supported over eighty Ferguson Fellowships in Community Engagement for students (working with a faculty/staff mentor) to complete community-based research and/or community-based projects addressing a community need in a sustainable way.
  • Supported community-engaged learning and faculty-led community based research and projects. In 2021, the CCE launched “The Tidewater Fellows” furthering Center support of faculty/staff and community-engaged learning practices.
  • Created a Minor in Civic Engagement & Social Justice that aligns with the goals, mission, and vision of the University and CCE.