For Dean of the Faculty Laurie Joyner, being a part of the Central Florida community means much more than just living here with her husband and their young family. In just three years, she has spread her philosophy of engagement well beyond the borders of the Rollins College campus.
“Throughout my academic career, a consistent priority has been to link the resources of the academy to the community in ways that deepen student learning while addressing pressing social issues,” said Joyner.
As a volunteer with the Heart of Florida United Way, Joyner has chaired the “Building Safe Communities” Cabinet since its inception in 2008. Putting her degree in sociology to good use, she is helping non-profits become more accountable by implementing research-based programs to address root causes of social problems.
To ensure that donated dollars are being used efficiently, organizations submit data on a quarterly basis to show progress toward their goals. Comprised of public and private sector leaders, the Cabinet then helps non-profits identify best practices and document the impact of their programs.
“By pioneering this new approach to grant making, the United Way is investing in results,” explained Joyner. “This is critical to ensure that we are contributing to the quality of life across Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. In these economic times, strong financial stewardship is essential.”
Her passion to link the resources of the College to best address community needs—both at home and abroad—compliments her oversight of Rollins’ award-winning Office of Community Engagement (OCE). Now in its tenth year, OCE is more focused than ever on getting Rollins students and faculty involved in engaged learning opportunities.
"Our faculty are deeply committed teachers and scholars who recognize that the educational process extends well beyond the walls of the classroom," said Joyner. "The link between learning and service is one way Rollins reflects our mission of educating students for responsible leadership and global citizenship while affirming our distinctive tradition of pedagogical innovation.”
Joyner’s leadership and service to the community reaches beyond the United Way and Rollins. In fall 2009, she was invited to serve on the executive committee and board of directors of myregion.org, an organization that works to encourage super-regional cooperation on issues such as growth, sustainability, and global competiveness.
Over the years, Joyner’s passion for community and civic engagement has been deeply rooted in all aspects of her work. At Loyola University, in her native New Orleans, she led a number of public education reform initiatives and established the University’s Office of Service Learning.
Here in Central Florida—both on and off campus—she continues to lead by example, using her talents to connect the resources of the Rollins campus with local and global communities. Joyner works diligently to move Rollins forward in the tradition of the “communiversity”—an institution of higher learning which directly connects issues in the classroom to problems in the real world.
“In terms of combining the heart with the mind, Rollins has crossed boundaries and opened up gates to bridge the academic setting with the real world,” said Linda Grassa with the Orange County Commission on Aging. “There is not another institution we are aware of that is doing anything like this.”