UW-Eau Claire professor awarded for dedication to service learning



Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

The first annual Sister Joel Read Award, an honor bestowed to a nominee that has shown a commitment to civic engagement, was given to UW-Eau Claire’s Center for Leadership Director and professor of management Scott Lester.

The award, distributed during Wisconsin Campus Compact’s tenth year Anniversary Civic Engagement Institute, was given to Lester after he was nominated. A committee within the organization then chose him based on work he has done in connecting service on campus to the community.

Executive Director of Wisconsin Campus Compact Jennifer Walsh said that the work Lester has done at Eau Claire by motivating students through his class and publishing work he has done over years was what motivated the committee’s decision.

“It’s been really an honor to have him in the first round as an award recipient and the folks we named the award after, Sister Joel, was very excited about the level of expertise that Dr. Lester and the other candidates had,” she said. “It’s very well deserving.”

Outreach Specialist with Continuing Education Claire Couillard, a former student in Lester’s civic engagement class, said he was instrumental in the implementation of the program she co-coordinated called Campus Kitchens Project.

“Dr. Lester was definitely very influential in helping us get that program up and running,” she said. “A lot of his input and feedback on the program and helping us work with our partner organization was really helpful, and I think contributed most to where the program is today.”


This program, now utilized on campus, is a way to ensure leftover food that would have been thrown away instead goes to local organizations such as Feed My People Food Bank or The Community Table.

“He really does a lot for our campus,” Couillard said. “It’s excellent that he was able to receive the award. I think it’s great that he’s been awarded for that because it really shows that the community is appreciative of the things he’s done as well.”

Lester has been the professor for the civil service class titled Community Leadership for several years, this semester being the seventh class he has taught.

“I was looking for providing new experiences for students where they’re out doing hands on stuff,” he said. “And civic engagement, giving back to the community, is something that’s important to me. I thought that was a natural way we could build ties between the university and the community.”

Walsh said that another factor in choosing Lester for the award was the research and publishing that he has done in regard to students and their continuation of volunteering once they have
left college.

“He did research that looked at the volunteer rates of graduates after they leave the college of business,” she said. “And it’s very interesting because he found that alumni from the campus, from the college of business, volunteer more than twice the national average for their age group.”

Lester said he is humbled by the award, and while it is nice to be recognized, he is more of a facilitator to the people that are developing programs and volunteering.

“Hopefully not only seeing my passion, but experiencing the passion or the results themselves as they go through it, they realize how important civic engagement is and what a big impact it can have.”