Harvey Mudd College recently selected Gabriel Gamiz-Gomez, the current HMC Homework Hotline Administrator, as its first Director of Community Engagement. Gamiz-Gomez will work under the auspices of the Dean of Students office to consolidate the individual community engagement programs currently running at HMC, facilitate logistical issues, and increase student, faculty, and staff involvement in community service projects.
The position will be funded for the first two years by a $150,000 grant HMC recently received from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.
HMC Dean of Students Maggie Browning said that establishing a community engagement position has been a focus of hers since she arrived at HMC four years ago.
“When I arrived, I saw that there were a number of student- and faculty-run service groups, like Upward Bound, but they all operated separately from each other,” Browning said. “I’m hoping that the community engagement director will be able to facilitate the different groups’ logistical needs.”
Gamiz-Gomez, a Pomona native and graduate of both Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University, began her new position in February. She has established a set of credentials with local academic and community engagement organizations, including serving as Project Director of a Title V grant to aid organizations catering to Latinos in the Riverside Community College District. Both she and Browning hope these experiences will allow her to meet the organizational needs of current groups and spark greater involvement in such groups on HMC’s campus.
“Understanding the effects of our actions on society is a central part of our mission statement, and we want to be able to promote that kind of engagement work on campus,” Gamiz-Gomez said.
Browning said that, as part of this increased devotion to community engagement in the Dean of Students Office, she hoped to increase the number of classes in the curriculum that included a community engagement component.
“We have a large number of faculty that are doing important work in the community, but that work isn’t reflected in the number of courses that include community engagement. I think we have maybe one course in the current catalog that does,” Browning said.
Gamiz-Gomez sees her new position as unique from other 5C community engagement directors.
“I think we have an interesting challenge that’s not relevant to the other 5Cs based on our STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] focus. How do we bring to life a community engagement component, let’s say, within CORE? Is that even possible at HMC? Would it be an elective?” Gamiz-Gomez said.
She plans to form a focus group with administrators, faculty, and students in order to address the possibility of including community engagement as part of the curriculum and to solicit the thoughts and opinions of the HMC community on the issue.
HMC students expressed support for the idea of adding community service to the CORE program specifically.
“I think it would be a totally feasible possibility. CORE is easy enough that there should be time for community service as well,” Michael Fox HM ’14 said. “There’s a component of CORE that’s just, ‘Let’s get this done.’ As long as that isn’t how they implement it, it should be fine.”
Gamiz-Gomez said she will regularly consult community engagement directors across the 5Cs in an attempt to best serve the needs of the greater Inland Empire community. However, as a crucial member of the Dean of Students office, she and Browning will attempt to keep most of her focus on the HMC community while using information obtained from regular meetings with other 5C community engagement directors.
“I’m hoping our goals will be shaped up a lot more after having these discussions, but right now we’re still new and trying to define what we want to do as a community,” Gamiz-Gomez said.