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.
The Weitz CEC, as a building on UNO campus, ensures improved community access to the campus and its full array of services, events, and human capital. Additionally, the Weitz CEC delivers more effective engagement to UNO students, faculty and staff with a full range of activities offered in and through the Weitz CEC. The Weitz CEC serves as 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 CEC is not intended, however, to detract or reduce the extensive outreach activities already occurring off-campus. Rather, the Weitz CEC enhances UNO’s capacity to be more responsive and effective in its off-campus activities, as it increases the capacity of the Service Learning Academy, the 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 opportunities for local nonprofits, government initiatives, 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, with a rapidly increasing number of students enrolling 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 CEC provides 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 CEC allows 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 keep all UNO students informed of community needs and service opportunities with organizations that address these needs.
UNO’s key service-related entities – the Collaborative and the award-winning UNO Service Learning Academy – permanently reside in the Weitz CEC, making the building a “one-stop-shop” for students seeking co-curricular or for-credit service opportunities. Staff and student workers are available to assist students seeking help in identifying opportunities and connecting with organizations.
The Weitz CEC provides 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 CEC provides space for existing staff as well as additional staff for anticipated growth, as a demand for service learning courses continues to increase at UNO.
The Weitz CEC supports SLA’s needs 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 CEC gives 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 CEC offers space for board meetings and planning activities; for those seeking opportunities with volunteer or board opportunities, the Weitz CEC has 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 focusing on engagement and outreach. The Weitz CEC permanently houses the UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA), the Collaborative, the William Brennan Labor Institute, and Buffett Early Childhood Institute.
Buffett Early Childhood Institute is an innovative, multidisciplinary research, practice, and policy institute of the four University of Nebraska campuses. The Institute’s administrative home is in the Community Engagement Center. Giving all children, regardless of their background, equal opportunities for success in life is the goal of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, established by a founding gift from Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett. The institute is dedicated to promoting the development and learning of children from birth to age 8, focused especially on those who are vulnerable because of poverty, abuse, or developmental, learning, or behavioural challenges.
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 a diverse group of organizations while sharing interests and missions in developing a partnership with UNO and the community. These organizations participated in a values-based, two-part application process. To stay updated on future applications for occupancy please continue to visit our website or contact the Weitz CEC operations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short Term Users: Ranging from six months to one year, these entities will provide collaborative grant partnerships, short-term community/university initiatives, student-driven projects, and teams of faculty working on small-scope community research or outreach projects. These organizations will need to submit a simplified, value-based written application. Short-term applications for occupancy are still in progress but will be available in the future. For updates and more information on when those will become available please continue to visit our website or contact the Weitz CEC operations team at email@example.com.
Daily or Weekly Users: For the student(s), faculty and staff who are involved in community-based projects (i.e., classroom projects), student-driven service projects, and service learning activities. The Weitz CEC requires reserving a room or project area at least 2 business days in advance to ensure availability of space, but no formal application will be required. To inquire about the spaces available please visit the reservations and parking section of the website, accessible on the Weitz CEC home page.
The overarching determination is based on how applicant organizations fit the values of the Weitz CEC. This is determined through a two part application process that begins with the completion of an application. Following review of applications, a second round involves interviews with selected applicants with the Weitz CEC advisory committee. The committee selects building partners based on the Weitz CEC’s values and makes a recommendation to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs.
The Weitz CEC houses 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 Collaborative offices, Weitz CEC suite #130. If unavailable, please visit the Collaborative’s website. Organizations seeking individual students can utilize MavSYNC, our student activities portal that connects 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. For individuals unfamiliar with MavSYNC please contact the Weitz CEC operations team at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 department and/or 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 email@example.com.
The Weitz CEC includes numerous meeting rooms for groups of five to just under 225. All have access to state-of-the-art technology and technology assistance during normal campus business hours.
The Weitz CEC spaces include:
• The OPPD community dialogue rooms I and II, with seating “in the round” for up to 70 plus additional observation seating. This is an ideal space for community forums and dialogues.
• Three large traditional meeting rooms, each with a capacity of 80, and combined a capacity of 225 lecture style seating.
• One large public boardroom.
• Two public boardrooms with video conference capacity
• One medium classroom style room.
• Multiple small meeting rooms.
• Three project rooms for organic long-term planning and development. One wall in each of the large rooms can be utilized as a large white board when needed.
• Two shared resource rooms that will allow for a variety of mixed planning/meeting uses. These spaces feature large TV monitors and lounge type seating. Among other uses, the display monitors are mainly used for impromptu meetings involving engagement on or off campus.
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.