Hamline News

20 Years of Community-Focused Dialogue

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2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Hamline’s Commitment to Community (C2C), a university-wide diversity initiatives committee of students, faculty, and staff, whose mission is to foster diversity awareness, knowledge, and understanding through discussion, dialogue, and community building. C2C was founded by two Hamline undergraduate students, Dan McGrath ‘99 and Grant Anderson ‘97, who have continued their inclusive and community-focused work in their lives and careers after Hamline.

While at Hamline, McGrath majored in English and political science, was vice-president of the Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC), and played soccer, captaining the team his senior year. Two life-changing relationships that McGrath made at Hamline were with Teresa Olson, a fellow Hamline student-athlete who is now his wife, and Grant Anderson, who he helped in creating a new movement on campus known as “Campaign of Acceptance,” which evolved into Commitment to Community.

Anderson majored in sociology, was a Resident Advisor (RA), and was heavily involved in HUSC. He started reaching out to the people in his circle about trying to do something big to respond to bias incidents in the community and more importantly, bring communities of justice together. With support from sociology professor Dr. M Sheridan Embser-Herbert and former Dean of Students Marilyn Deppe, Anderson teamed up with McGrath, he says because of their “friendship and shared values,” and created the program in October of 1997.

“I think what stands out about this program was how many people were invested in its success,”Anderson said. “There were more than a dozen faculty, many staff, and a number of students who helped organize and facilitate events, reached out to communities on and off campus, and made this possible. I am not sure Dan or I could have been more proud of what had happened, and we also realized it took countless people in order to be a reality.”

McGrath agreed, mentioning a few specific individuals who he credits for helping to start C2C. They include Phillip Minor, a Hamline administrator at the time, who thought of the name “Commitment to Community,” Marilyn Deppe, numerous faculty including Embser-Herbert and Stephen Kellert (philosophy), and of course, Grant Anderson.

Their first keynote speaker was Dr. Cornel West, whose work primarily focuses on the role of race, gender, and class in American society and the means by which people act and react to their "radical conditionedness." Anderson and McGrath worked with first-year seminar (FYSem) faculty to make the experience a requirement for first year students, a stipulation that still holds true today. Dr. West presented an hour-long speech to a packed audience at Hamline Methodist Church.

“The audience was hanging on his every word and was electric with applause when he was done,” Anderson recalls.

Anderson says that to this day he considers C2C as one of the most important things he has been a part of, and what helped him determine a career path in higher education. He went on to study at Colorado State University where he received his Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education. He worked at Ohio State University and the University of Vermont before landing his current position of Assistant Director of Residential Life at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2003.

McGrath attributes C2C to many milestones in his life including, an independent study entitled My Commitment to My Community, an internship with the Hamline Midway Coalition, and his honor’s thesis on university-community partnerships. Immediately after graduating, he started his career as a community organizer. Today, he runs one of the most respected and nationally- recognized community organizing groups in Minnesota, TakeAction Minnesota, which he founded ten years ago. TakeAction MN is network of people and organizations that that works for social, racial and economic justice.

You can read more about C2C on Hamline’s website.