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Gifts in Action: Shaping the Future

Center for Civic Engagement promises to transform the service-learning experience for students

by Audrey Maynard (’03)

From humble beginnings that began in the basement of the Shaw Center 15 years ago, the Center for Civic Engagement is a model for ways service-learning can go beyond extracurricular volunteer opportunities for altruistic students. Today, the Center for Civic Engagement connects Westminster students more meaningfully with surrounding communities, developing their collaboration and leadership skills, and deepening their sense of empathy. The Center for Civic Engagement will continue this vital work in perpetuity through a $1.5 million endowment given by a true champion of community service, the late Katherine W. Dumke. 

Kay Dumke and spouse

With increased financial capacity, the Katherine W. Dumke Center for Civic Engagement will build upon the relationship that Westminster has fostered with the city of South Salt Lake, as well as serve other partners in the community and around the world—as outlined in the college’s 2014 strategic plan. Specifically, this gift will allow the center to develop more service-learning courses for the campus community; increase funds for Take Action, SLICE, and other programs; provide student internships with local nonprofit organizations; and expand international service-learning experiences for students and faculty.

“I can think of no more fitting name to grace this center than Kay Dumke’s,” said President Brian Levin-Stankevich. “She exemplified the values of leadership, collaboration, empathy, and volunteerism that are at the heart of the center’s mission; and I am proud that we have been given the opportunity to continue her legacy through the good works of the Westminster community.”

Center director Julie Tille, who has worked in the center since its inception in 2000, has seen how increased service-learning opportunities have transformed the college experience for students, and she looks forward to using the endowment to elevate the center’s offerings.

“Some of our top priorities include increasing our student-leader programs and examining the creation of a faculty-fellow role,” she says. “I am eager to get us talking at conferences on the national level about what we’re doing, as well as bring in research to strengthen how we justify and provide evidence of our work.”  The evidence of the center’s success is hard to deny. Last year, Westminster students completed 95,000 hours of service to the community for projects including homeless outreach, environmental cleanup, and youth education programs. The college was named South Salt Lake’s “Partner of the Year” in 2013 and 2014 for serving the community through the city’s Promise program, which provides academic- and prevention-based programming for residents.

Sarah Schafer (’15), who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in public health, applied for and received a project stipend through the college’s Take Action program to mentor high school students at South Salt Lake’s Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center. “Mentoring for Moo” has enjoyed remarkable success: 100 percent of high school participants in the program have graduated, compared to approximately 20 percent for the overall population of that same group. For her work, Sarah was the state runner-up for the prestigious Truman Fellowship.

“I learn new things every day working in South Salt Lake; it is a really amazing community in that way,” she says. “These are resilient, amazing people who do not need handouts; they just need a hand and some support. I think it is important to remember to acknowledge how capable the recipients of your efforts are and to remember they are teaching you as much, if not more, than you are teaching them.”

Julie Tille hopes the campus community realizes its role in the center’s success, and she’s inspired by Kay’s wish for the center to grow and succeed.

“Everyone—the professors, the staff, and especially the students—has worked hard to elevate civic engagement on campus,” she says. “I think Mrs. Dumke’s gift recognizes this and reinforces the value of this work. Her support will take us to the next level. It will be a great challenge, but we’re ready for it!”

About Kay Dumke

Kay Dumke grew up in a business environment. For decades she served in director-level positions in her family’s business, W. R. White Pipe Company, as well as at Western States Management Corporation. But her true passion lay in helping to better the communities in which she lived: volunteering for and supporting many organizations, including Neighborhood House, the Junior League, and the Girls Scouts of Utah. Kay passed away last November, but her legacy lives on through the countless lives she touched.

Kay Dumke black and white photograph

“My mother believed that we create a better community, a better state, a better world when we get out of ourselves and give back,” says Andrea Dumke-Manship (’83), Kay’s daughter. “That’s what life is all about!”

Kay had a warm regard for Westminster and supported the college through grants from the Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Foundation. She also encouraged her children and grandchildren to enroll. To date, 16 members of the Dumke family have attended Westminster!

“Westminster is a gem in Salt Lake, and my family has always wanted to support it because of the education it offers,” says Andrea.

Andrea was thrilled that her mother chose to endow the Center for Civic Engagement before she passed away, and she hopes that the programs it offers become a central part of the learning dynamic at Westminster. “I think my mother would hope this gift builds on the reputation of the center and that it becomes a shining star of what Westminster offers its students,” says Andrea.

She adds, “And it’s a win-win situation for students and the communities they serve: it’s not just about helping others; it’s about teaching communities about being a community and giving back.”



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.