Honorary Degree Citation for Nadinne Cruz

President Oden, it is a great honor and pleasure to present Nadinne Cruz for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Nadinne Cruz is a native of the Philippines.  Her formal education includes studies at the University of the Philippines, University of San Francisco, Marquette University and the University of Minnesota in political science.  Her informal education includes more than 25 years of work in the Philippines and in the United States in community organizing, and speaking, writing and living experiential education, including almost ten years as Associate Director and Director of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. Among other awards, in 2005 she received the Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award from the National Youth Leadership Council, honoring her exemplary leadership and motivation of others in service-learning.

Nadinne’s association with Carleton goes back at least to the 1980s when she was the executive director of  the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, HECUA, a pioneer program in experiential learning based in the Twin Cities.  Beginning in 1968, HECUA, a consortium of 17 schools, including Carleton, has offered place-based  education for social justice, including partnerships for social change between academics and communities.

Nadinne is a pioneer in the service-learning movement; indeed, she is both a co-author and a subject of a 1999 book Service-Learning:  A Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on its Origins, Practice and Future.  Each time I have heard Nadinne speak and teach – and our association goes back many years – she has reminded me and others that service-learning is, at its roots, radical and transformative. Reflecting on the values for colleges of institutionalizing service-learning, Nadinne wrote in her Carleton report that “the very foundation of education for civic engagement should includeamong the most important considerationsan interrogation of assumptions about the ‘common good,’ along with development of understanding and skills learned through experiences engaging in, and solving the consequences of, differences in the context of democratic society." Service-learning provides these experiences and academics use the tools of their disciplines to analyze their assumptions and experience, just as they would analyze a text.

Nadinne and others in experiential learning ask, “What would scholarship look like if it is to contribute to the public good?”  That this question has become mainstream is indicated by the national accrediting agencies for colleges and universities, who for the first time have begun to ask:  what can colleges and their students, faculty and staff do for their communities and what is it about those communities that makes the colleges what they are? 

At Carleton, where she spent more than three weeks in 2006, Nadinne comments that “[she] was fortunate to experience many rich, and often moving, individual and group conversations. [She was] grateful for the hospitality of shared meals (some home cooked!) and congenial accommodation of [her] daily search for “hair-raising” coffee.”

Those she talked with admire her not only for her depth of understanding and experience, but also for her habit of deep listening. As at Stanford, Nadinne uncovered a treasure trove here, an untold story, of existing partnerships between students, faculty and the community.  She challenges us to ask “How can education for civic engagement across the curriculum become a more integral part of Carleton College as well as an expression of its overall institutional excellence?”  President Oden, Nadinne Cruz has already helped Carleton toward this goal and, with luck, we will have her help in the future.

President Oden, I am very pleased to present Nadinne Cruz for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.