4 September 2015, Lexington, Virginia – The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty announced today that John Carroll University (JCU) professor, Margaret (Peggy) Finucane, Ph.D., has been elected chair of the organization’s new Governing Board. The move comes as the organization adopted a new five-year course “as a vehicle for propelling the study of poverty in U.S. higher education.”
The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), a 21-member organization founded in 2012, encourages the study of poverty as a complex social problem by expanding and improving educational opportunities for college students in a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories. The election of Dr. Finucane took place at the SHECP annual board meeting held on the campus of Washington and Lee University (W&L) on August 1, 2015
Dr. Finucane, associate professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communication & Theatre Arts, begins her tenure as the chair of SHECP after the completion of a two-year term by the group’s inaugural chair, James Calvin Davis, Ph. D., Middlebury College. Dr. Finucane has served on the SHECP governing body since 2012, and most recently served with Dr. Davis and five others on the Strategic Planning Committee. JCU, Middlebury, and W&L are three of the organizations 21-members.
“I have worked with Peggy Finucane for nearly a decade, and I am grateful that we will be working together to advance the Strategic Plan agenda,” said SHECP Executive Director, Harlan R. Beckley. “Peggy is tireless in her efforts to advance poverty studies at JCU and in higher education.”
Last winter, JCU awarded Dr. Finucane the 2014 David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service. She was director of her university’s Center for Service and Social Action for eight years. John Carroll is a private, coeducational, Jesuit Catholic university with approximately 3,000 undergraduate and 700 graduate students.
Dr. Finucane will chair the not-for-profit as it implements its newly adopted strategic plan which was two years in the making. The plan calls a slow and steady increase in institutional membership and an increase in staff and funding to support more members and programming. It sets two major goals with 21 benchmarks related to membership, governance, leadership, fundraising leading to 2017.
SHECP and its member institutions prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability, while also supporting connections among students, faculty, staff, and alumni engaged in the study of poverty.
“We are working to help equip college students to address the problem of poverty, as future professionals and citizens, by expanding and improving opportunities to study the meanings, causes, and consequences of poverty in a wide range of disciplines,” said Dr. Finucane. “We seek to transform the study of poverty in the United States, by leading the development of undergraduate poverty studies programs and by supporting innovative work in poverty-related scholarship and pedagogy.”
As a faculty member at JCU, Dr. Finucane has integrated service-learning into several courses she has taught, including Cultivating Community, a class dedicated to learning about the economic, political, historical, and religious complexities of an urban neighborhood in Cleveland. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from John Carroll University; a Master of Arts in Communication Research from the University of Iowa; and a doctorate in Communication from Kent State University. She joined JCU’s Tim Russert Department of Communication & Theatre Arts as a faculty member in 1998. Her research interests focus on mediated interpersonal communication, service-learning pedagogy and outcomes, and vocational discernment.
Following the election of its new chair, the newly minted SHECP Council passed a resolution honoring its passed chair, Dr. Davis, for his leadership of the organization and of the Strategic Planning Committee. Dr. David serves as Professor of Religion and Academic Director of the Privilege & Poverty Initiative at Middlebury College. Dr. Davis will continue to play an important role in the organization, serving on the Governing Board of the SHECP Council.
The seven-member Strategic Planning Committee was informed and enabled during the first year of its deliberations by consultation with Aimee White, Consumer Evaluation Services based in Seattle, WA. The Consortium was able to contract with CES due to a generous grant from the Connolly Family Foundation based in Atlanta, GA. In addition to representatives from JCU and Middlebury, members on the committee represented SHECP members, Baylor University, Elon University, and Marymount College.
The board meeting was held in conjunction with the 2015 SHECP Symposium and the Frueauff Closing Conference. The Symposium addressed the theme “Food, Nutrition, and Health in Low Socio-economic Children.” The conference featured 94 undergraduate and law school students reporting on their recently completed eight-week internships across the U.S. in health, law, education, and community and individual service.
SHECP is named for the founding benefactors of the organization, Tom and Nancy Shepherd.