UCCS representatives to meet at White House

August 1, 2011
Tom Hutton, UCCS, (719) 255-3439, (719) 351-6519 thutton@uccs.edu

Two University of Colorado Colorado Springs representatives will travel to the White House this week to meet with officials in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

On Aug. 3, Peg Bacon, provost, and Jeff Scholes, instructor, Department of Philosophy, will discuss UCCS involvement with President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge for the upcoming academic year. In June, Scholes applied to the program which encourages colleges to commit to a year of interfaith and community service programming. The application builds on Scholes’ role as instructor of world religion courses at UCCS and director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life.

“The goal of the President’s challenge is to bring people of different faiths, as well as those who are not religious or secular in their worldview, together to work toward a common goal: an improved Colorado Springs,” Scholes said. “This vision, as expressed by the White House, dovetails nicely with the UCCS goal to engage its community as well as the goal of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life to encourage dialogue involving religion. We’re very excited to be participating in the President’s program.”

After being accepted to the program, Scholes and Bacon were invited to share their ideas and to hear the ideas of others selected to participate. The opportunity to visit the White House and participate in discussions will serve as impetus for the Center’s year-long plan and for Scholes, who successfully organized an event in February that allowed students, faculty and staff to experience Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Shamanism, Buddhism and Hinduism by visiting several rooms in the University Center.

“That event helped members of the UCCS community to experience religion from a different perspective,” Scholes said. “One of the goals for this year’s initiative is to bring people who consider themselves religious together with those who do not to move collectively towards meeting some needs of the wider community.”

Ideas that Bacon and Scholes hopes to pursue with White House staff and throughout the fall semester with the UCCS campus community include helping military families who may have a member who is deployed overseas or a community service project focused on Colorado Springs parks. After several engagement sessions with speakers and dialogue in the fall semester, Scholes hopes to channel this work into these student-led service projects during the spring semester.

“In the fall, we hope to have engagement,” Scholes said. “In the spring, we hope to have action.”

For more information about the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, visit http://whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ofbnp/interfaithservice.For information about the UCCS Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, visit http://www.uccs.edu/~rdpl/people.html.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The university offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 9,000 students annually.