Washington Names Patrick Nugent Director of Civic Engagement for the College


New position will focus civic engagement efforts across the institution.

President of the Maryland State Senate William Ferguson IV, Maryland 36th District Delegate Jay Jacobs, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center Adam Goodheart, Maryland 36th District Delegate Steven Arentz, Patricia Miller, Washington College President Michael Sosulski, and Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Director of Civic Engagement Pat Nugent.

Left to right:

President of the Maryland State Senate William Ferguson IV, Maryland 36th District Delegate Jay Jacobs, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center Adam Goodheart, Maryland 36th District Delegate Steven Arentz, Patricia Miller, Washington College President Michael Sosulski, and Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Director of Civic Engagement Pat Nugent.Politicians joined President Sosulski and College officials in Annapolis for the introduction of Patrick Nugent as the Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Director of Civic Engagement at Washington College. The endowed position honors its namesake, who was Maryland’s longest-serving Senate President and dedicated to a life of public service.  

Nugent, who remains a part of the Washington College Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will formally coordinate civic engagement across the institution, providing all students with valuable opportunities to learn what it means to be an engaged citizen and the impact they can have in their communities. “There is a real opportunity to build on the College’s successful community-based programs like the Starr Center’s Chesapeake Heartland Project and our many volunteer and service-learning programs.” said Nugent. “I’m looking forward to working with faculty and students to further develop a College-wide culture of civic engagement that is focused on the quality of programs and strengthening our ties with the community.” 

The position was made possible by a $1-million appropriation from the State of Maryland and $1 million in matching funds from the Starr Center Foundation, as well as gifts from private donors.
President Miller was a longtime friend and supporter of Washington College, receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2007 recognizing his leadership and commitment to the education and welfare of all Marylanders. 

“One of the central tenets of a liberal arts education is to imbue students with a sense of responsible citizenship,” said Sosulski. “It is critical to our participatory democracy, and the way that Pat is approaching this opportunity will give us a unique position in higher education and one that is sorely needed at this moment in time.”

Nugent, who previously served as Deputy Director of the Starr Center, plans to incorporate a range of programs to expand the traditional view of civic engagement beyond service. The College already partners with local organizations like Minary’s Dream Alliance, Rebuilding Together Kent County, and Kent County Public Schools to support a shared vision of a flourishing mid-shore community. But the new civic engagement program will expand opportunities for student internships and collaborative research in support of groups whose efforts positively impact the lives of those on Eastern Shore and beyond.

The Starr Center’s Explore America summer internship program—which connects about 30 students each year with some of America’s most prestigious cultural institutions dedicated to serving the public good—demonstrates the ways in which internships can be integral to civic engagement. These internships not only provide real world experience, but they help students understand the impact that public service can have on communities. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Constitution Center, and Human Rights Campaign are just some of the national organizations that partner with the Explore America program.

A recent effort by Assistant Professor of Political Science Flavio Rogerio Hickel Jr. to conduct the first opinion poll of the Eastern Shore was supported by Nugent through the Starr Center and serves as an example of the potential power of collaboration. In addition to surveying opinions about the mid-term elections, Hickel and Nugent asked about attitudes toward engaged civic activity and the role it plays in a healthy community. The results of such research can prove valuable for local organizations and politicians, as well as faculty and student groups exploring ways to work within the community most effectively.

“I can think of no one better to undertake this new role than Pat, who has been deeply involved in the community and led important partnerships with local organizations and community leaders,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “He is an accomplished teacher and scholar whose work weaves American history together with such contemporary issues as the environment and racial justice, as well as being an inspiring leader in public humanities.”

Nugent has been gathering information about the current programs at the College and is reaching out to faculty and student organizations to provide support for existing programs and work with others in creating new opportunities. “I am committed to unleashing the passion of our students and the wisdom of our faculty to serve the broader public good in our community, state, region, and nation,” said Nugent.

Central to this effort “is bringing community members into the process to provide feedback and help ensure that our programs are focused to have the greatest impact,” said Nugent. “We want to make sure that we are meeting the real needs of our partners and our communities.”