Center for Civic Engagement renamed Center for Civic Leadership

Rice News staff

Rice’s Center for Civic Engagement has been renamed the Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) to reflect its longtime commitment to developing what Associate Dean of Undergraduates Matt Taylor calls “distinctive leaders.”

Matt Taylor

“The center has always been focused on developing leadership through the unique kinds of learning and skill development that occur when students engage with community partners and Rice faculty members to tackle real problems,” Taylor said. “The new name is a reflection of its mission.”

Taylor noted that in Edgar Odell Lovett’s 1912 inaugural address, “The Meaning of the New Institution,” Rice’s first president discussed the importance of producing knowledge makers and civic leaders who put their educations to work for the betterment of humankind.

“We wish to convey to the larger Rice community that the programs in the center offer much more than opportunities for civic engagement,” Taylor said. “Indeed, CCL programs are designed explicitly both to complement classroom learning and to highlight and create coherent pathways for development of the knowledge, skills and values essential to effective leadership.”

Caroline Quenemoen, director of the CCL’s Office of Fellowships and Undergraduate Research, said that the center offers many programs designed to help students develop essential communication and problem-solving skills through civic-based research, internships and service.

The CCL is also implementing new programs such as Beyond the Sallyport, which will introduce students to the Houston community and help them begin to identify connections between their interests and community issues and acting to effect positive change. The center is also developing credit-bearing capstone courses (launching next year) associated with project-based, experiential learning.

“We hope the new name will provide students a better sense of what we do — which is develop student leaders,” Quenemoen said.

Along with a new name, the center has expanded its staff by hiring two additional positions for the Community Involvement Center (CIC) and Leadership Rice (LR). Lauren Caldarera is the CIC’s new associate director and Jesse Hendrix is LR’s new assistant director.

Robert Stein


Judy Le, director of LR and Mac Griswold, director of the CIC, said the addition of new staff positions will allow them to strengthen and expand their current programs, including LR’s Summer Mentorship Experience (SME) and the CIC’s Alternative Spring Break. Griswold also noted that the CIC plans to establish courses focused on leadership training, logistical training, and safety and support for site leaders.

Bob Stein, the Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science and CCL faculty director, pointed to the launch of the Houston Action Research Team (HART) program this past summer as an example of the center’s critical work. HARTs are interdisciplinary research teams of Rice undergraduates who tackle pressing Houston community problems brought to the CCL by community partners. “These teams are producing results that the community partners need and are truly excited about,” Stein said.

For more information on the Center for Civic Leadership, visit

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.