Prof. Rekha Datta Receives the Outstanding Leader Award from the National Society for Experiential Education
(the following is the text of a Monmouth press release)
Monmouth University is pleased to announce Dr. Rekha Datta, professor of political science and a 1990 UConn PhD, has been selected to receive the Outstanding Leader in Experiential Education: Higher Education Award from the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE). The award was presented at the awards luncheon at the NSEE Annual Conference on Friday, October 21, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Datta was nominated for this award by her Monmouth University colleagues, Dr. Mercy Azeke, dean of the Center for Student Success, and Marilyn Ward, coordinator of service learning and community programs.
Dr. Rekha Datta is the founding director of Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University. She has spent the last 10 years promoting global understanding through academic programs, field experiences, and service learning. According to Dr. Datta, experiential education, as envisaged in the Monmouth University General Education program, is a unique and fundamental aspect of the college education experience. For Dr. Datta, student engagement is a key aspect of college education. It comes through a holistic experience integrating experiential education (career focused), volunteerism, and civic engagement (community participation) on campus and in the local and global communities.
Monmouth University Provost Thomas Pearson stated: “Under Dr. Rekha Datta’s passionate and wise leadership, faculty, students, and administrators work together to enhance the global knowledge and understanding of our University community and commit to making a more peaceful, just, and tolerant world.”
Dr. Datta commends Monmouth University students for their community service in general, in particular through events such as the Big Event, in which they volunteer in local agencies. She also believes in a seamless unity in local and global community service. As founding director of the Institute for Global Understanding, she initiated two programs through which Monmouth University students volunteer to mentor students in area high schools: Students in the Project BAM (Big Brothers Big Sisters, Asbury Park High School, and Monmouth University) and the mentorship program with the Boys and Girls Club.
As chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, she developed an international service learning course, which has served as a template for other departments as well. Through this course, students have engaged in community service in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, and India. In addition, she introduced a 1-credit Civic Engagement course for political science and sociology majors, which is geared to engage students in events and activities on and off campus. In the spring of 2011, students in the Civic Engagement class organized a Hunger Banquet to raise awareness about hunger in local and global communities and how they can participate in making a difference through research, advocacy, and volunteering.
Dr. Datta commented: “I am honored to have been nominated and happy to receive the award. I consider it an affirmation to the experiential education, service learning, and volunteer services programs at Monmouth University and all the students, faculty, and employees who give meaning to student engagement and service learning through their hard work and dedication every day.”
The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) is a nonprofit membership association of educators, businesses, and community leaders. For more information, visit nsee.org.