Office for Civic and Social Engagement

Volunteering with the OCSE
Volunteering with the OCSE

"Be the change you wish to see"

The Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) is a unique resource center, which exists for the benefit of the Saint Mary's College students, faculty, and staff.

We provide opportunities for:

  • community service
  • academic experiential learning 
  • one-time volunteer events
  • special speakers
  • community engagement

The Office for Civic and Social Engagement operates within the Division for Mission of Saint Mary's College, and is closely associated with Campus Ministry and the Center for Spirituality. Our College mission calls us to promote social responsibility and to acquire the ability to make socially responsible choices about the future.

A Brief History of the Office

In 1991 a Saint Mary's student by the name of Sharon Zint conceived the idea of an office of volunteer service after hearing a speech by Sister Joan Chittister. Sister Joan was the commencement speaker at the 1991 graduation and spoke of the power of hope to bring change into people's lives. Her focus on the nature and power of hope came from Saint Mary's Motto, Spes Unica, the only hope. Zint took her inspiration to heart and beginning in the fall of her senior year, drafted a proposal for the creation of the Spes Unica Resource and Volunteer Center. As a result, S.U.R.V. was born. The SURV Center functioned primarily as a clearing house for information on needs in the wider South Bend community and how students could become involved.

The Center was staffed completely by students. As time passed the program grew, finally bringing in a full time Director in 1997. Sister Linda Kors, CSC, helped SURV to expand its reach, taking students on work trips to Appalachia every fall and partnering with the Center for Spirituality on pilgrimages to Brazil, El Salvador, and Mexico. Resources available at the SURV Center continued to grow, from service-learning texts available to faculty, to brochures explaining post-graduation service such as the Peace Corps.

In the summer of 2004 a name change was proposed for the Center, one that would encompass new directions and the changes on the horizon. Thus the Office for Civic and Social Engagement was created. The OCSE has remained true to Zint's simple belief that as a Catholic college, "We have an obligation to do community service for others."