About the Donelan Office

The mission of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, Teaching, & Engaged Scholarship is to engage faculty, staff, students, and community partners in teaching, learning, and engaged research that address pressing community issues. In the Jesuit tradition, and through service and research guided by principles of social justice, mutuality, and reciprocity, we promote participatory experiential learning and research opportunities that foster the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources and include those affected by the issues throughout the process. Central to our practice is dialogue, reflection, co-learning, and long-term commitments to participation.

The Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, Teaching, and Engaged Scholarship was established with a $1.2 million endowment from Trustee and alumnus Joseph P. Donelan II to facilitate connections between academic learning and community engagement. Since its opening in September of 2001, thousands of students have participated in the program, enriching their intellectual experiences in the classroom with first hand experience in the Worcester community.  (Learn more about the City of Worcester in this video by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, released October, 2021). 

Dr. William Meinhofer, the founding director, developed the Donelan Office into a strong program that has improved relations between the College and the City of Worcester. Dr. Margaret Post and Dr. Michelle Sterk Barrett continued to build upon Dr. Meinhofer's work by serving as the second and third directors (respectively) of the Donelan Office. Dr. Isabelle Jenkins ‘10 currently serves as the Donelan Office’s Director and was appointed in Spring '22. 

In the Fall of '23 the Donelan Office expanded the scope of its work to support community-engaged research (Scholarship in Action), in addition to community-based learning courses. The Scholarship in Action program (SIA) advances community-engaged research in Worcester through partnerships with faculty, students, and community stakeholders. Originally funded through a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, Scholarship in Action supports faculty, students, and community organizations through resources, coordination, and short-term and long-term grants. 

Current staff also include the Director of the Mellon SIA Grant, Mary Conley, the Associate Director, Kya Roumimper Ascani, the Assistant Director, Kathryn Hauver '22 and the Donelan Office’s Administrative Assistant, Diane Girard. The CBL Interns, undergraduates who have participated in CBL and are selected for leadership positions with the Donelan office, are available to further support faculty, CBL students, and community partners.

Learn more about Community-Based Learning through our "Introduction to Community-Based Learning" (PDF) Power Point, our Student Handbook (PDF), and through reading CBL-related websites. Learn more about Scholarship in Action through the SIA website.

The Donelan Office is a part of the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World at the College. 

Our Jesuit colleges and universities "boast a splendid variety of in-service programs, outreach programs, insertion programs, off-campus contacts, and hands-on courses. These should not be too optional or peripheral, but at the core of every Jesuit university's program of studies... Every discipline, beyond its necessary specialization, must engage with human society, human life, and the environment in appropriate ways, cultivating moral concern about how people ought to live together."

-Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus

“We all have the capacity to respond to the most pressing problems we face locally, nationally and around the globe. Our Jesuit tradition calls us to begin that work on the bridge between our classrooms and the Worcester community.”

-Margaret A. Post, former Director of the Donelan Office of Community Based Learning

For and wit others screen shot

See how Community-Based Learning can be a part of the Holy Cross experience of living out our mission of being "for and with others." In this Gateways orientation video (MOV), Holy Cross students share about their community engagement experiences, Community-Based Learning included, and how they help them understand and enact our mission.