Matthew Roy, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement, UMass Dartmouth
Professor Roy has led a five campus collaboration to increase the breadth and depth of community service learning performed by University of Massachusetts students. He is also the architect of the Leadership for Educational Attainment Developed Through Service (LEADS) program, designed to increase the civic engagement and leadership skills of Fall River and New Bedford public school students.
The five-campus collaboration led to a $471,000 Learn and Serve America grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The purpose of the grant is to engage 1,500 UMass students in community service projects that are embedded in their college courses. The group in charge of the system-wide effort has been working for the last few years to strengthen university student civic engagement and leadership, increase the success of public schools by focusing on college access and the dropout rate, help workers develop 21st century skills, and help community organizations to use students effectively.
The LEADS program, for which Professor Roy helped to get funding, matches UMass Dartmouth students with grade school students in New Bedford and Fall River. The goals of the of the LEADS program are to:
The program targets middle school students, as studies have shown that students tend to decided to drop out of school while they are in middle school.
"We believe people empower themselves," Professor Roy said, "I can give them opportunity, but they decide to take the opportunity."
The program emphasizes servant leadership, with college students leading projects focused on educating the whole school on a theme such as healthy living or hunger and homelessness. LEADS works with six middle schools, three in Fall River and three in New Bedford. They also expanded their program to a high school in New Bedford. Professor Roy says one goal of the UMass Dartmouth campus is that, by 2012, every student will have a service learning experience prior to graduating.
Professor Roy knows the Southeastern Massachusetts region well, having grown up in Fall River, MA. He was the 10th of 11 children and the first to go to college. "I know issues of poverty firsthand," he said. "And I know the struggles that people in those gateway cities have in terms of understanding what college is about, let alone trying to get to college."
When he came to work at UMass Dartmouth, he was determined to make his classes beneficial for his students and the community. He found that Chancellor MacCormack was a kindred spirit, having a similar upbringing and understanding of how service learning as pedagogy is beneficial to students.
"When I came here and embraced service learning, I saw the depth of learning and how it can impassion students," he said. "My students learn more, and the community benefits."
"We are all leaders," he says. "Our challenge is to find the context in which you can have the most positive impact.
"The energy one gets from even the simplest acts of giving is powerful motivation."
Professor Roy is Assistant Provost and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement at UMass Dartmouth. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island.