ADA — Ada native Dr. Pat Fountain, an associate professor of business administration at East Central University, has been named ECU's director of service-learning.

Dr. Duane C. Anderson, ECU vice president for academic affairs, said he expects Fountain to lead the university's initiative to promote civic engagement through the establishment of a comprehensive service-learning program over the next two years.

"Service-learning is a teaching method that ties community service and reflection to academic learning to meet community needs and help students practice what they are learning," said Fountain, who has been an active supporter and user of service-learning for several years.

Community service activities are not necessarily service-learning, he added. Service-learning must meet an identified need as well as provide an opportunity for students to examine the connection between what the textbook says, how they were able to apply that to meet a community need and then better understand the material they are learning.

Another aim of service-learning, Fountain said, is to increase the civic engagement of students in hopes they will be active participants in their various communities after they graduate.

Service-learning, along with undergraduate research, is expected to play a big part in ECU's future. Fountain said more than two years of work by an ad-hoc service-learning committee has resulted in a number of recommendations to the ECU administration.

Two recommendations have been implemented - naming a service-learning director to coordinate ECU's efforts and establishing a center for service-learning. The third recommendation is to establish a formal academic program and that completion of the program be recognized on a participant's diploma and academic transcript.

"The bottom line to me," Fountain said, "is that someday most students will be sitting across a desk or table from someone who is wondering, 'If I hire this person, what can they do for me?' Service-learning will help students answer that question as they tell of the experiences they have had identifying community needs, leading projects, working with others on projects and in communicating the results of projects.

"And the best part of all," he added, "is that the student's work will help the community as much as it helps the student."

Fountain and Anderson hope the service-learning center will be the link between community needs, community organizations and volunteers and campus faculty, students, classes and volunteers.

Fountain has presented academic papers related to service-learning at the national meetings of both the American Association of Business and Behavioral Sciences and the Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators. In addition, he proposed, organized and led a service-learning workshop at an ACME national meeting.

He attended a service-learning conference and workshop jointly sponsored by Oklahoma Campus Compact and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in 2005.

Fountain, who received the Teaching Excellence Award at ECU in 2004, was elected recently as secretary of ACME and is the recording secretary in the Career Guidance Network of Oklahoma organization. He is on the boards of directors of the Ada Rotary Club, the ECU Alumni Association and the East Central Credit Union. He is the chairman of marketing and a member of the Executive Board of the Arbuckle Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

This Week's Circulars