Reflections of the Director

Corey with Urban Affairs students

Corey Cook,
Director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center

One of the things that drew me to USF as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics nearly a decade ago was the opportunity to work with the McCarthy Center. At that time, the Center was already nationally-recognized for its expertise in community-engaged learning and was contemplating a summer program in Sacramento. As an academic studying state and local politics and interested in developing service-learning courses, the Center seemed like an incredible resource. I knew that I would enjoy helping to develop the Sacramento program and that I had much to learn from its outstanding staff. It never occurred to me that I would ever become the director of the Center.

Six years later, I’m grateful to so many colleagues, partners, and collaborators who gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to help implement Leo McCarthy’s compelling vision to “urge students who pass our way to embrace passionately some mission in public service.” The Center has grown pretty dramatically in the past few years but always with an eye on Leo’s vision and the objective of perpetuating his legacy of promoting ethical public service by implementing academically rigorous programs, cultivating authentic community partnerships, and creating transformational experiences.

This past week was another reminder of the amazing people involved in the Center’s work. At the McCarthy Center graduation, we honored an exceptional faculty colleague, Helen Maniates, for her work in service-learning and a phenomenal community partner, Faithful Fools. Our diverse, intelligent, and inspiring graduating undergraduate students more or less swept the University’s awards and continued to demonstrate their integrity and deep commitment to social change. And we graduated our first ever class of masters students in Urban Affairs and fourth cohort of Public Affairs graduate students, each of whom is prepared to make a meaningful contribution to public service in pursuit of the common good. And then this week, our summer programs began with a cohort of Privett Global Scholars traveling to Bolivia and India to work on sustainable development projects and McCarthy Fellows heading to Sacramento to work in and around the capitol. And I think the Center is poised to do bigger and better things in San Francisco, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., and around the globe in the years to come.

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