Frequently Asked Questions
What are the core values of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center and how were they determined?
- Dynamic culture fostering camaraderie and communication.
- Needs are authentic, clear, and opportunity to benefit from the space is obvious.
- There is value in being in the Wetiz Center as a place, not simply as a space to rent.
- Reflective of the diversity in the community from racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic perspectives.
- Respectful reciprocity: Both the university and the partner organization respect the other’s values, interests, and shared benefits of being in the Weitz Center.
- Willing to work with and showcase outcomes and efforts of students, faculty, volunteers, and/or organizations.
- Strong leadership and strategic thinking
- Financially viable organizations
- Flexibility in problem solving to resolve center operational differences
The values of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center were determined collectively by an advisory committee composed of both community and university representatives. The committee went through a deliberative and facilitated decision-making process that determined the key values that would best represent the ideals of campus/community engagement. The committee then went through a process that resulted in agreement as to how each of the values could be operationalized, communicated and evaluated in the application process for office and meeting space.
By building the Weitz Center on campus, UNO is ensuring that the community has vastly improved access to the campus and its full array of services, events, and human capital. Additionally, housing the Weitz Center on the campus will ensure that we can more effectively engage UNO students in the full range of activities offered in and through the Weitz Center. The Weitz Center is a visual and physical representation of UNO’s renewed commitment to be a metropolitan institution of distinction, with a sincere intention to be open to the community. The Weitz Center is not intended, however, to detract or reduce the extensive outreach activities already occurring off-campus. Rather, the Weitz Center will enhance UNO’s capacity to be more responsive and effective in its off-campus activities as well, as it will increase the capacity of the Service Learning Academy, the Student Volunteer and Leadership Collaborative, applied research, and other outreach activities.
• A centralized, two-way system of coordinating, linking, and communicating volunteer, community service, and service learning needs with UNO’s abundant campus resources.
• A unified student volunteer and leadership program focused on meeting today’s and future community needs.
• Over 12,000 square feet of community/university partnership space, housing local nonprofit, government, higher education, and other organizations in a flexible, collaborative, and productive work environment.
• Multiple workspaces, designed to promote innovative and collaborative solutions to our community’s most challenging issues.
• Meeting space for groups from 5 to 275 featuring state-of-the-art technology and a variety of venues in the heart of campus, including a community dialogue room for forums and town hall meetings.
• Extensive visitor parking adjacent to the building and easily accessible from Dodge Street.
• New opportunities for organizational capacity building, facilitated decisionmaking, and civic participation.
• Improved access to the full range of UNO special events and programs, such as guest lectures, symposia, documentary screenings, and fine arts events.
As evident by the rapidly increasing number of students enrolled in service learning courses and participating in our signature service days, students coming to UNO today are actively seeking service and volunteer opportunity activities. More and more frequently, employers are seeking students who can demonstrate the type of volunteer experience and leadership experience gained through community service.
The Weitz Center will provide greater coordination, technical support, and visibility of the full range of community service-related opportunities available to students, all located within one building. The Weitz Center will allow for multiple, coordinated approaches to inform, recruit, and support student volunteer service activities in both short term and long term settings.
Multiple modes of communicating these opportunities – using MavSYNC – a Facebook-like software package that connects students to volunteer and leadership opportunities, as well as social media outlets, a giant video wall, volunteer fairs and booths, computer touchscreens, and new software packages will keep all UNO students informed of community needs and service opportunities with organizations that address these needs.
UNO’s key service-related entities – the new Student Volunteer and Leadership Collaborative (“the Collaborative”) and the award-winning UNO Service Learning Academy – are now housed in the Weitz Center, making the building a “one-stop-shop” for students seeking co-curricular or for-credit service opportunities. Staff and student workers will be available to assist students seeking assistance in identifying opportunities and connecting with organizations.
The Weitz Center has provided expanded space for UNO’s nationally recognized Service Learning Academy (SLA). The SLA has grown from a small part-time staff to six full-time staff members and eight graduate assistants. The Weitz Center will provide space for existing staff as well as additional staff for anticipated growth, as demand for service learning courses continues to increase at UNO.
The Weitz Center supports the SLA’s need for meeting, forum, and community event and fair space. Often, SLA’s educational and community partners gather to meet, conduct joint planning or program activities, or celebrate at the end of the academic semester.
The Weitz Centerwill provide UNO faculty and staff a place to connect with nonprofit organizations, conduct applied research with campus and/or community partners, or spend sabbaticals on applied research activities. For faculty and staff already involved with community boards, the Weitz Center will offer space for board meetings and planning activities; for those seeking opportunities with volunteer or board opportunities, the Weitz Center will offer numerous avenues – via online opportunities, volunteer fairs, and face to face interactions – to connect.
Partners are grouped in separate categories.
Permanent University Users: University organizations focused on engagement and outreach. The Weitz Center will permanently house the UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA), the Student Volunteer and Leadership Collaborative, and the William Brennan Labor Institute. In addition, the Weitz Center will house its operations and IT staff. These organizations will be housed in dedicated office spaces throughout the building.
Community or University Partners: These longer-term (but not permanent) organizations and initiatives are housed in two of the three community/university partner spaces in the building (see below). Ideally, each community/university collaboration area will have a mix of community and university users, co-located with organizations with similar missions or interests. These organizations participated in a values-based, two-part application process. The next due date for RFPs has not been determined but will likely be in early summer 2014.
Short Term Users: Ranging from a few months to one year, these entities could be collaborative grant partnerships, short-term community/university initiatives, student-driven projects, teams of faculty working on small-scope community research or outreach projects. These organizations will need to submit a simplified, value-based written application.
Daily or Weekly Users: For intensive student, faculty and/or community projects, i.e., classroom projects, student-driven service projects, and service learning activities. Will require reserving a room or project area in advance to ensure availability of space, but no formal application will be required.
The overarching determination will be based on how applicant organizations fit the values of the Weitz Center. This is determined through a two part application process that begins with the completion of an application, available online as an Request For Proposals (RFP). Following review of applications, a second round involves interviews with selected applicants with the Weitz Center advisory committee. The committee selects building partners based on the Weitz Center’s values and makes a recommendation to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs.
The Weitz Center will ultimately house three separate community/university partnership spaces totaling 12,000 square feet. Two of these spaces are on the first floor and one is on the second floor of the building. All three include flexible office spaces for community organizations, including nonprofit, government, education (K- 12 or higher education partners), private sector organizations, collaboratives, and grant-funded initiatives. UNO outreach-based programs involving faculty, staff and/or students are also eligible to occupy spaces within these areas and include private office spaces, as well as numerous large and medium sized semi-private work spaces.
How can the Weitz Center help me find volunteers? A professor to link my nonprofit to a student project? An intern? And what’s the difference, anyway?
Volunteers are engaged in community service without the provision of academic credit.
UNO’s leadership and faculty value volunteerism, believing it provides opportunities for our students to grow as individuals, professionals, and active citizens. We enhance their volunteer experience by adding opportunities for reflection, leadership education, and skill acquisition opportunities.
Organizations seeking volunteers have several options. If seeking assistance with organized groups of volunteers, please visit the Student Collaborative website. Organizations seeking individual students can utilize MavSYNC, our student activities portal that connect students, much like Facebook, with campus and community organizations that meet their interests and passions. Students get regular feeds about upcoming nonprofit organizations volunteer needs and events
Internships in general are work experiences provided in exchange for academic credit. They may or may not be paid. Internships should align with a student’s academic goals and objectives while simultaneously serving the needs of the supervising organization. The academic internship supervisor, normally from the student’s academic major, will work with the student and employer to determine the learning objectives for the internship period and the number of credit hours the student will earn. Generally, students are required to provide evidence of how they have integrated their internship experience with the academic knowledge gained in the classroom.
Capstones normally culminate a student’s academic degree program. They are generally project based and may or may not involve a community service component or any expectation that the student will be on site Typically, if the student is working with a community partner, the student, their partner, and faculty supervisor will develop a project plan that meets the expectations of all involved.
Typically, capstones and internships are arranged directly through the academic unit. If unsure of whom to contact, please contact Heike Langdon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Weitz Center includes numerous meeting rooms for groups of five to 300. All have access to state-of-the-art technology. Spaces include:
• A community dialogue room, with seating “in the round” for up to 70 plus additional observation seating. This will be ideal for community forums and dialogues.
• Three large traditional meeting rooms, each with a capacity of 80 or with a combined capacity of 275.
• One large public boardroom.
• Two public board rooms with video conference capacity
• One medium classroom for 35.
• Multiple small meeting rooms.
• Three project rooms for long-term planning
• Two shared resource rooms that will allow for a variety of mixed planning/meeting uses
These spaces will be available at no charge for organizations that are using the space for the public good and that have some type of affiliation with UNO, either through a Weitz Center-related partnership; a faculty, staff, or program, or service learning-related affiliation, or long-term collaboration.
Community engagement is defined as "Effective, mutually beneficial collaboration of students, faculty, and staff and our community." See more terms of engagement.
The Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center is named for an individual deeply committed to her community and to helping others. Barbara is an avid supporter of local and national nonprofit organizations, giving back to the Omaha community through her volunteerism and financial commitments.
Barbara along with her husband, Wally Weitz, and their children were the catalyst behind the development and extraordinary growth of UNO’s service learning programs — now being integrated in K-12 schools throughout the Omaha community — and the university’s emergence as a national leader in community engagement.
Barbara holds degrees in government, public administration and social work from Carleton College, New York University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a retired faculty member of the UNO School of Social Work and currently is involved with the Women’s Fund of Greater Omaha, Building Bright Futures, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, the Urban League of Nebraska, the Avenue Scholars Foundation and the University of Nebraska Foundation. Barbara formerly served on the National Board of the Samaritan Institute.
The Weitz Family Foundation made the lead gift to the Community Engagement Center. Their support of this transformative project at UNO continues the family’s legacy of community engagement and enriching the lives of others.