Service learning director honored with two awards for inspiring civic engagement


Lane Perry, director of the Center for Service Learning, has been recognized twice this year for excellence in connecting students with opportunities to learn by serving in their communities and beyond.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities presented Perry its John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement on June 4 “in recognition of exemplary early-career leaders who are advancing the wider civic engagement movement through higher education to build a broader public culture of democracy.”


Lane Perry (right), recipient of state and national honors for his leadership in service-learning activities, works with faculty member Julie Johnson-Busbin to transform a closed prison into a shelter, halfway house and soup kitchen.

In February, Perry was named the 2015 Civic Engagement “Emerging Leader” Professional of the Year by North Carolina Campus Compact at the organization’s annual conference. The award recognizes one staff person working in North Carolina higher education with less than five years of professional work in the field for efforts to institutionalize a campus wide vision of service, support the engagement of faculty and students, and form innovative campus-community partnerships.

Carol Burton ’87 MAEd ’90, associate provost for undergraduate studies, nominated Perry for the Saltmarsh award, citing service-learning projects Perry has been involved in, such as aiding Hurricane Sandy victims in 2013, partnering with WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center and the Sylva Herald to sponsor a concert to benefit landslide victims in Snohomish County in the state of Washington the next year, and assisting with the conversion of a closed Haywood County prison to a shelter, soup kitchen and halfway house.

Since becoming director of service learning in 2012, Perry also was part of a four-person team that submitted a successful application to renew WCU’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. In 2013, Perry received a matched grant valued at $18,000 from the AACU to develop the Ripple Effect Learning Community, an interdisciplinary program that has served 42 first-year WCU students over the past two years. He helped create new Habitat for Humanity projects in Jackson County, a campus Habitat chapter and a new business plan for a local Habitat ReStore.

“WCU is such a fertile ground for all the high-impact practices to thrive, and I am lucky to be involved in one – service- and community-based learning,” Perry said.