Strategic Plan

Community Engagement & Leadership Center

Strategic Plan


The Community Engagement & Leadership Center provides intentional learning opportunities and facilitates mutually beneficial relationships that support the development of students who have a lifelong commitment to ethical leadership and engaged citizenship.


  • CEL partnered with the Engaged Learning and Embrey Human Rights departments to co-sponsor the Engaged Learning Expo, featuring 50 Dallas area non-profits with service opportunities for students.
  • The Alternative Breaks program led 15 trips, engaging over 150 students and 15 faculty/staff members in service to communities across the United States, Ecuador, and Guatemala.
  • Mustang Heroes led over 125 trips to Dallas-area partner organizations, engaging over 100 students in 1,365 hours of service to the local community.
  • CEL staff visited more than 30 Dallas community 501(C)3 organizations to further develop relationships and volunteer opportunities for the SMU community.
  • The Emerging Leaders program selected 35 outstanding first-year students to participate in the semester-long leadership development program.
  • The Crain All-University Leadership Conference hosted over 50 student participants and 25 diverse staff presenters in an engaging, hands-on weekend conference to further develop SMU student leadership. Students participated in group activities at Group Dynamix and heard from keynote speakers, including Mr. Rick Hart, SMU Director of Athletics, and Mr. David Huntley, alumnus of SMU.
  • CEL staff provided leadership for the SMU Community Engagement Council, including monthly meetings for over 30 SMU members, with the goal of strengthening communication amongst the University community about community engagement initiatives.
  • CEL staff completed a semester-long benchmarking project to determine staffing and organization needs of the department. Over 50 different peer, aspirational, and select other programs were reviewed.
  • Students who participated in the Volunteer Activities course for Fall 2012 reported a stronger commitment to community engagement after completing the course.
  • The SMU Service House had record-breaking applications for the 2013-2014 academic year – 40 applications for 8 openings in the community of 28 total students.


  • CEL faced significant staffing challenges in 2012-2013 as two full-time staff positions remained unfilled all year, leaving one full-time staff member and two part-time staff to support the department’s programming efforts.
  • Mustang Heroes and Alternative Breaks experienced unprecedented interest in their programs this year, often without adequate opportunities or resources (funding) to meet the demand. Sustainable funding remains an issue for these programs due to the nature of the chartered student organization funding process, and relatively low University-designated resources relative to the total resources required to run the programs.
  • The LEAD organization went through a year of re-evaluating its programs and relevance as a leadership-based organization on campus. Students and staff underwent a strategic process of assessing the program’s success and developing a new plan for the organization and programs moving forward.


Student Success

  • Program Marketing: Develop a marketing plan to promote CEL programs and organizations to the general student body, specifically with the goal of increasing participation in Community Service Day, the new leadership program model, and the volunteer opportunity database.

Learning Happens Everywhere

  • University Curriculum Proposals: Increase the number of CEL programs approved by the University Curriculum Committee for satisfying UC Proficiency/Experience components.
  • Curricular Collaborations: Collaborate with Engaged Learning to advance faculty partnerships and service-learning in the classroom.

Exemplary Division of Student Affairs

  • Human Capital: Fill current open positions within the CEL department in order to achieve excellence in program delivery and support of the Student Affairs Mission.
  • Strategic Plan: Reevaluate the vision and strategic plan of the department, incorporating partnerships with the Hegi Family Career Development Center and educational/developmental framework consistent with benchmarked institutions.