It is my pleasure to introduce you to the McLean Institute. Our team works hard to support and increase our community engagement efforts with the state and local communities. We are honored to join you and our other partners in developing programs to raise the standard of living throughout Mississippi.
In 2011 the Institute was expanded to serve as the university’s primary community service and engagement office. The Institute now encompasses various forms of community engagement, including service-learning and community-based research. We work closely with campus programs and with community partners across the state to provide services to the underserved.
Our mission, to fight poverty through education in Mississippi, will not only study its problems but work together to help address its future. The Institute, in collaboration with the university faculty, staff and students, will focus on serving Mississippi by cultivating leaders of all ages, researching problems and working alongside communities to implement solutions.
We recognize that some of the state’s disparities are historical and systemic. Thus we will explore and implement programs directed at the structural concerns facing many of our communities, such as the lack of early childhood and the summer learning gap experienced by lower-income students. Together with our communities, we have the intellectual capital to address these needs. Our guiding principles will advance knowledge and interventions that will be of use to areas throughout the state, thus serving as a trusted partner in addressing these needs. Some of our initial focus areas will be advancing education, promoting financial literacy and asset building, enhancing food security, combating health disparities, and developing leadership.
By developing support opportunities for faculty, staff and students, we expect to accomplish our goal of matching service activities to community needs. This involves supporting faculty, staff and students interested in combining coursework with the needs of the community through service-learning courses and community-based research projects.
Over the next several years, the McLean Institute will support community engagement across the UM campus and continue to offer educational programs to improve the quality of life for all. We understand that poverty alleviation in Mississippi is a long-term endeavor, but one that must be pursued to raise livelihoods.
Albert Nylander, Director
McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement
Professor of Sociology